The UCI’s Cycling Independent Reform Commission (“CIRC”) has published its report. It’s not a gripping read, this is a report on the corporate policy of institution a decade ago. But buried in the 228 pages are revelations, there is strong criticism of those running the UCI in the past and it puts the spotlight back on contemporary doping practices.
To reduce it to one sentence the report says the UCI was lax for many years but believes doping continues today, albeit on a reduced scale and the UCI needs to implement anti-doping and governance reforms. Let’s take a closer look.
The CIRC comprised of Dr. Dick Marty, a former Swiss State Prosecutor, Ulrich Haas, an expert in anti-doping laws, and Peter Nicholson, a former military officer who specializes in criminal investigations plus supporting staff. They interviewed 174 people including ex-riders and team managers. Nobody came forward to confess anything new, implying that the talk of doping came from those interviewees who have already been sanctioned. Among the 135 who consented to their name made public are:
Early on it reports “some riders will take substances on the [WADA banned] List but, having not been caught, consider themselves clean” highlighting the warped perspective prevalent in parts of the peloton. The report walks through the established history of cycling’s doping problems from the 19th century practices of brandy and strychnine to the establishment of early anti-doping controls, the death of Tom Simspson, blood manipulation techniques in the 1980s for Francesco Moser’s Hour record until the “game changer” EPO. Then it’s onwards via the Festina scandal, the EPO lab test prompting a switch to blood transfusions and recent scandals from Puerto to Discovery et cetera.
For those wanting gossip the section from page 47 onwards called “New Doping Patterns” outlines more contemporary practices including blood mules where riders would store blood in freezers, defrost it to infuse it for travel to a race where they’d drain the blood off again to have a supply close to hand, all while travelling across borders without a pouch of blood.
The bio passport is considered a big advance but not foolproof. We knew this but here’s the UCI-approved report saying some manipulate values all year to avoid fluctuations during the season, “micro-dosing” with EPO or small blood pouches to CIRC-umvent the passport; a pattern which part-explains the delays in prosecuting some cases. “Dr Eufemiano Fuentes is apparently still treating athletes despite being banned in 2013”, reportedly in South America. One rider caught for EPO in 2013 said he “received the substance from an amateur rider working in local pharmacies in northern Italy. The rider had been using Dr Michele Ferrari’s services remotely”. You don’t need Sherlock Holmes to recall a rider rumbled for EPO in 2013 from northern Italy.
The report analyses the factors behind doping, dismissing accusations towards the UCI points system but concerned about the presence of ex-dopers on team staff and the ready supply of substances from Eastern Europe and the Internet among other things. As well as heavy doping we learn that many riders are on anti-depressants and in one instance the CIRC was told by a rider of “a ‘pills system’ used during races in 2011, involving up to 30 pills daily”.
Did Lance Armstrong bribe the UCI?
No says the CIRC. Read more and he didn’t have to because the UCI were so lax, breaking their own rules to encourage the marketble manna of a recovering cancer patient from the USA reach the top of the sport.
Loyal readers know this blog pointed out that the UCI broke its own anti-doping rules when Lance Armstrong tested positive in 1999, the rules in place should have meant he was suspended during the Tour de France. But it’s satisfying to see this reported in official black and white.
There were allegations of Armstrong tested positive in the 2001 Tour de Suisse and it was covered-up. As pointed out here in 2013 Armstrong did not test positive for EPO but his samples were flagged “suspicious” by the lab. In the following Tour de France Armstrong was tested 10 times, the strict minimum based on his stage win and yellow jersey count. The report reveals Armstrong had “suspicious” EPO tests in the 2002 Dauphiné too. The result? The UCI’s head of anti-doping believed the results were “not possible” and questioned the tests, not the rider.
As for the 2009 comeback, the CIRC says Pat McQuaid wrote to Armstrong in telling him he could not start the Tour Down Under as it was too soon following the notification of his return. So Armstrong promised to race the 2009 Tour of Ireland, run by McQuaid’s brother Darach, and two days later Armstrong was allowed to ride the TDU following the unilateral decision of Pat McQuaid. The CIRC says it did not find a direct link but invites people to note that within hours of McQuaid’s “sudden U-turn” Armstrong had promised to race in Ireland. Just fancy that!
Was Contador given special treatment?
Yes because three members of the UCI travelled to Spain to inform Alberto Contador that one of his samples from the 2010 Tour de France was positive for clenbuterol, an unlikely procedure amounting to special treatment. The CIRC looked into whether the UCI tried to suppress further news; you’ll remember the story only broke once German journalist Hajo Seppelt flushed it out of the UCI. CIRC says there was no cover-up because WADA was informed, instead the UCI was hesitating given the small dosage detected. The CIRC says the UCI should not have sat back: it should have followed procedure and prosecuted earlier.
If Armstrong and Contador enjoyed special treatment they weren’t alone. For years the UCI’s anti-doping effort was managed by Lon Schattenberg (pictured), an occupational therapist who declined to meet the CIRC. In his absence the CIRC writes “UCI staff reported that trying to catch the cheaters amounted to a witch hunt in Lon Schattenberg’s opinion” and the report paints a picture of a man trying hard to ensure prevent doping scandals… by ensuring nobody got caught. In one example he wrote to teams in 2002 with handy tips to avoid being caught:
“…even though it was announced that the urine test could only detect EPO in the 3-4 days after it was first taken, the laboratories have noted that in certain cases, it can even be detected one week later!!“
Generously you’d say Schattenberg knew he couldn’t catch riders so he was trying to protect their health, nudging them towards safety. The CIRC isn’t so nice, portraying him as chieftain of a culture that didn’t want to look too hard and many a reader will see take him for a buffoon. When Armstrong’s samples were suspicious in 2002, Schattenberg questioned the test rather than the rider.
Along with Hein Verbruggen, President between 1991 and 2005, and lawyer Philippe Verbiest, Schattenberg was part of the trio labelled within the UCI as the “Dutch connection” (NB Dutch-speakers) who would “discuss and decide important anti-doping matters”. Verbiest was an ally of Verbruggen and acted as an advisor for years, never directly a member of the UCI but “de facto he was the uncontested head of the judicial unit/legal department of UCI” and in charge of the results management of anti-doping.
Over several pages the CIRC paints a picture of the UCI keen to portray itself as “leading the way” with new testing but poor at catching anyone; the police scored more. Riders would be called in for warnings and told to back-off rather than the UCI using suspect data as a means to track potential offenders and catch them. The UCI was one of the last sports federations to sign up to the WADA Code despite WADA being created in the wake of the Festina scandal.
At the time it wasn’t just anti-doping but other areas that were deemed lax, for example the use of cash payments to cover expenses left plenty of questions. A section titled “casual use of financial resources” sees a a page redacted entirely, presumably at the UCI’s request. Hein Verbruggen’s management style and many details are called into question so many times that this blog post could be twice as long if it was catalogued. One aside is that as a result of turf wars “Hein Verbruggen credited himself with being instrumental in the failure of the candidature of Paris for the Olympic Games”.
Change came in 2006 with the appointment of Anne Gripper to run the UCI’s anti-doping efforts in October 2006 and Schattenberg departed just months later, although Verbiest remained “very dominant” until 2011. By this time Pat McQuaid had been President since 2005 but it’s here the CIRC-us paints a picture of a clown. While Verbruggen is described in the report as a “patron absolu“, the CIRC writes “Pat McQuaid has been described by the majority of the current and former UCI staff as a rather “weak leader'”:
“Hein Verbruggen remained Vice-President of UCI, kept an office at UCI’s headquarters and was physically present a lot of the time. The control structure that Hein Verbruggen had installed during his presidency and that remained in place under the presidency of Pat McQuaid continued to report and meet with him. Hein Verbruggen had a strong influence on Pat McQuaid throughout the latter’s presidency. Emails directed at Pat McQuaid would be forwarded to Hein Verbruggen and answered by the latter or answered by Pat McQuaid, however, drafted by Hein Verbruggen. UCI staff reported that they thought that Pat McQuaid felt obliged to Hein Verbruggen, because the latter had put him in office. Pat McQuaid is described as being under Hein Verbruggen’s “umbrella” when taking important decisions… …Only gradually, at the end of his presidency, did Pat McQuaid become more independent.”
McQuaid doesn’t come out looking good at all, in fact the judgement is harsher than even his critics might have penned. He’s even sending gossipy e-mails to close contacts with confidential info like the contract between a leading rider with his team. It’s not mentioned but begs the question whether he was leaking contractual details agreed by teams and agents to his son Andrew, a rider agent. It’s only towards the end of his term that McQuaid starts to assert himself.
It’s not all about past members of the UCI. Management committee member and oligarch Igor Makarov gets blasted:
“It is disappointing and unexplainable that Igor Makarov did not agree to meet with the CIRC despite repeated invitations. However, he sent four representatives for two separate meetings. Whilst this was of assistance to the CIRC, it finds it unacceptable that Igor Makarov chose not to meet with the Commission.”
Makarov also compiled a dossier against Pat McQuaid and the contents of remain confidential but the CIRC slams Makarov, writing “this ‘strategy of suspicion and public shaming’ is particularly inappropriate.”
“there is no straightforward solution to the problem of doping in cycling”
Indeed. Here is a synthesis and summary of the recommendations:
- CIRC wants intelligent testing and investigatory powers for anti-doping to take things beyond the positive/negative approach to anti-doping. The UCI is said to be hiring a criminologist to assist
- Medical bodies should be informed if doctors are busted for doping and the UCI should rule on whether they can return to the sport
- Those with a suspect past should be investigated, even if there is a statute of limitations to punish them they can be questioned and called account. The UCI should use the existing rule requiring people to cooperate with anti-doping enquiries or risk a sanction
- Currently no athlete can be tested out of competition between 11pm-6am, a sensible rule to ensure athletes get a good night’s rest. But it’s exploited by those who micro-dose late at night to ensure they’re not glowing the next morning when testing resumes. Targeted testing of select riders at night is a means to deter this
- Just because some substances are not banned does not mean they should be used and abused. Whether it’s anti-depressants, Tramadol or cortisone for TUEs, the peloton is over-medicated and stage races could have a “central pharmacy” which can dispense medicine and food supplements to riders, as opposed to each team bringing medicines to a race
- Some anti-doping labs are better than others, able to test for finer quantities of substances. The UCI should use the best science possible to ensure anything and everything can be detected
- The UCI should study a potential reform to the Presidential election system, possibly giving pro riders a say and encouraging a stronger rider union
- The Ethics Committee needs a revamp and the Management Committee should minute everything that happens and all members should take an active part in meetings
The report reviews past practices and in the cold text of a PDF they look farcical, as if from a Kafka novel. As bizarre as it is to remember the UCI being forced to adopt the WADA Code in 2004 it’s not all that old, in 2012 the UCI was at war with WADA over the USADA report. The past isn’t that distant.
Whether it’s people in charge of anti-doping at the UCI warning teams about longer than expected detection windows or an autocratic President, the sport was run badly. But so were many other sports and in the 1990s there simply wasn’t the scrutiny of the UCI that exists today. Even under McQuaid the UCI was moving forward, for example it began to publish its accounts. Stick the CIRC onto FIFA or NFL and they’d find plenty to fret about.
An expensive exercise in telling us what we knew? Yes. Pat McQuaid started an inquest and shut it down only for Brian Cookson to make it a solemn election pledge with beaucoup budget.
There’s something CIRC-ular as old stories are repeated. If we knew the past was rotten now it’s UCI-approved rather than the stuff of op-eds and online forums. It’s one thing to read the UCI should have stopped Lance Armstrong in 1999 in a newspaper or on a blog, it’s another when it’s signed off in a formal report.
There’s little that’s juicy. Don’t imagine a sizzling steak, the CIRC’s meaty report is somewhere between well-done and carbonized. Rather than serving saucy info a lot of the report reheats old dishes and is peppered with footnotes from cyclingnews.com and other news sources as it builds the story of the UCI and anti-doping over the past 20 years, as if the commission spent weeks on the web to collate a pricey précis of the past. Despite the CIRC lamenting loose financial controls we don’t know what the CIRC’s cost, reports say $3 million.
There are revelations here and there but the bulk is confirmation: the UCI wasn’t bribed to cover-up positive tests but it ignored suspicious tests; on Lance Armstrong the governing body was too carried away with the marketing but the Texan wasn’t alone, other star riders got special treatment. If UCI’s management wasn’t financially corrupt it was managerially suspect with few checks and balances to stop abuses of power. As for today, the belief is doping continues whether it’s gaming the bio passport, abusing TUEs and so on and change in recent years has largely come from teams, managers and riders pulling back from wild ways because it had become bad for business.
The recommendations are necessary but not sufficient. Public acknowledgement that some riders are gaming the bio passport is saying that some major riders are doping and will reignite suspicions. Meanwhile the CIRC has shone a spotlight on the peloton’s hypochondria as some guzzle pills like force-fed geese but it’s wrong, as is the abuse of TUEs. The UCI should adopt the MPCC’s rest rule for those using cortisone, the one that stopped Chris Horner riding the 2014 Vuelta.
Closer to home, will Brian Cookson tackle Igor Makarov? The Russian sidestepped the CIRC and if he can’t co-operate fully with the UCI’s own report, will the rest of the management committee have faith in him?
Finally some will moan the report isn’t racey enough but remember it was meant to look at the past, to investigate the causes of doping with a view to making recommendations for the future rather than tail and trail today’s riders. Is there another sport that would have commissioned this, can you imagine tennis, athletics or soccer asking for a CIRC? Cycling was the first to see its stars perp-walked by police and rousted by reasoned decisions, now it’s asking why it happened. Still the recommendations seem modest and vague, hardly a roaring chorus of reform. The past 20 years of cycling have been chaotic with a confused governing central but not causal to this. Now it’s up to the UCI to shape the future of the sport. Time will tell if it’s up to the job.
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Thanks for a great round up.
Still haven’t finished reading it in full but you’d think Makarovs position is close to untenable.
Collectively it looks awkward but the mechanics mean he’s hard to oust. He was put in place by the European Cycling Union… which is generously funded by Makarov’s own business, Itera.
Hence the ‘close to’ 🙂
On another point. The fact only 5% of tests have the accompanying form ticked to allow the sample to be used anonymously for research purposes, is maybe one of the most worry aspects of the report. Taken simply, it could be argued that 95% of riders are worried that future advancements in testing will catch them out. The reality is probably that riders just don’t tick the box but I’d like to see the form changed so that you need to tick to disagree and we’d therefore get a much better indication of what ‘clean’ really means.
I don’t see it that way. There are 3 possible motives for that, that I can see. Let’s take them in descending order of cynicism.
1. The rider knows he’s up to something currently illegal and wants to ensure anything he/she achieves isn’t scratched due to better testing allowing smaller traces at lower half-life to be detected retrospectively.
2. The rider is up to to something not currently illegal, but that may well be at some point in the future and wishes to avoid future negative press (as obviously there couldn’t be any sporting sanction) and asterisking of his/her career.
3. The rider knows he/she is clean so what’s the point of testing it in the future? If they’re looking for clean urine/blood then just take it from the office junior.
I don’t disagree that they’re not motivators but I think you’ll find that the reason most companies ask you to tick a box to opt out of something is, as various studies have shown, more likely to get the desired result than a opt in option.
To be able to second guess why riders don’t tick the box would be easier with data based on two types of forms using both the opt in/out options.
– if it’s “used anonymously” why do you think they’re worried? Moreover, samples are actually stored (with their owner’s name sticked on) for some years, to check them in case of *need* or future advancements. Ticking the form wouldn’t change that.
Or what you’re saying is that you suspect riders don’t tick because they explicitly want to hinder scientific research? That is, they’re not worried by their samples’ direct use, but by research itself?
– I’m a blood donor. I’ve got to tick the box to prevent the use of my blood in “future scientific research” and, despite being a researcher myself, I always tick it. I won’t give my biological material in for unspecified research purposes. Besides quite a lot of normal medical usage, I’ve supported with my blood bags a couple of research project, but I was fully aware of protocol, scope and objectives of both.
I said “taken simply” for those reasons. I wasn’t making a judgement other than it could be used to make a judgement. Newspaper headlines have confirmed this.
To your second point, I’m not sure you, as a researcher and someone who obviously thinks through their actions, would be deemed as atypical, especially when compared to your average bike racer. Your experience of being a donor, though insightful, is the opposite to that of a racer. You choose to do that but many racers may see it as an obligation. Something to be completed as quickly as possible.
As I said in response above, I believe that we would need to see data from an opt option to have even a small chance to extrapolate the meaning of the riders. The best option of course would be to survey the riders and ask them why they don’t want their samples used for research purposes.
Just guessing, but in some EU states I suspect the law on personal data and medical records, etc, requires people to opt *in* rather than opt *out* of having their samples used for research. If that is the case, the UCI couldn’t simply, err, opt out of that.
As a blood donor in the US, to the RedCross, if I tick the box opting out of future research, then they send me away and don’t take my donation. (At least, that’s what it says on the forms, unless I’m misreading them.)
“Now it’s up to the UCI to shape the future of the sport.”
Or perhaps the uci brand is too toxic and it’s time for ASO to go out on it’s own. ASO can “sell” 16 franchises to qualified buyers. Only these franchise teams are eligible to ride to Tour, Vuelta, Roubaix. Etc.
Cut out the UCI, cut out the current crop of team owners.
Show me a private club that works? Look at NFL which won’t even sign up to the WADA Code. See other business examples where private interests collude to block outside scrutiny: don’t expect a healthier sport. If anything it was the Verbruggen style, keep outsiders from looking in. ASO aren’t the saints to protect the sport, maybe they only look good at times because the others have been so abject.
Agreed, just look at the ATP. Quick Google search finds that Nadal, Federer and others were tested “11 or more times”, i.e. less than once a month.
So you are arguing that one of the top two most profitable sports leagues in the world “doesn’t work”?
The UCI wishes it had the NFL’s problems!
To work = to make money? Organized crime works great, let’s go and copy that!
(it looks like that’s what the UCI tried to do, indeed :-P)
INRNG argued that a private club “doesn’t work”. I pointed out that the NFL, in many respects, seems to work very well thank you.
Are you disputing that?
Yeah. “To work” may mean different things, you explicitly named profit, but that:
– isn’t a good criterion at all, as I pointed out
– above all, it’s totally off topic, since inrng was openly referring to “a healthier sport”.
Hence, yes, inrng is arguing that NFL isn’t producing the results we’d like to expect for cycling in the frame of the present debate.
Maybe reading more than one sentence helps deeper understanding.
Andrew, my point is that the NFL has very weak anti-doping measures, the last thing it wants is scandal. Why bother testing players in case they come back positive for steroids and HGH?
Obviously the NFL “works” in the sense of “making a bootload of money for some people”. The NFL doesn’t “work” to convince me that the “athletes” in the NFL aren’t juiced till it comes out of their ears and noses.
The ATP is making vast amounts of money and they are also all 3 branches of government which leads to massive conflict of interest.
Yes, let’s not hold the NFL up as anything to model a sport on. I stopped watching the sport a few years ago. Slow, boring, too many reviews, the players are mostly doping, and the “game” is just a way to sell obese Americans junky lite beer, trucks, and cell phones.
The NFL is directly related to all that is wrong with the U.S. today. Too bad everyone is too distracted to notice.
And, I haven’t even mentioned the brain trauma. For all the problems with cycling, it’s one of the only sports I pay any attention to these days. Lots of cycling, a bit of international soccer, and some ice hockey.
All the rest have turned into corporate machines designed to sell people stuff they don’t need. And don’t even get me started on Div. I college football and basketball. They have no business being associated with institutions of higher learning. Make the NBA and NFL fund their own feeder leagues. As a former D I scholarship athlete that would have been accepted to my top-notch school without sports, it enrages me to see what goes on in those two. Disgusting.
Cycling, for all the faults and the likely continued doping, is still fun to watch and follow. And heck, even if I finally tire of the PRO peloton, I’ll never tire of riding myself.
Forget it, Andrew. Progressive, America-hating types are already committed to destroying the NFL, since they see it as “a symptom of everything wrong with the US”, as Ron below says. Saying anything positive about the NFL in this sort of milieu will be about as well received as saying something positive about the Third Reich in a Jewish synagogue.
Err. “As Ron above says”.
You can say positive things about the NFL. But it’s hard to cheer the format on when you see their anti-doping stance, which is the the topic of this blog post.
Ronin, the synagogue thing is there to show that every inch of the post is kind of Andy Kaufman style irony, no? (In that, sense, great fun).
I say that ’cause it doesn’t make much good to your NFL defense, since, even if the synagogue people could get especially “biased” about the subject, nevertheless the fact is that there are just a very few positive thing you could find to comment about Third Reich, in a synagogue or elsewhere. There *are* things, indeed, but, well, the bad side is quite overwhelming.
Anyway, the progressive America-hating Oliver Stone made me look to NFL with a keen eye thanks to Any Given Sunday 🙂
(my post is just… playing around, the only relevant fact is what inrng pointed out again just above)
Thanks for the Round up Mr Inrng…
Nothing to add – Just commenting to enable email view of the follow up comments!
Is it really necessary for a rider to have access to his own biological passport data? Seems like that access helps make micro dosing work. The rider doses just the right amount to keep his blood values within the acceptable range, and he knows what those values and that range is because he is helpfully provided with the data after every test. Suppose the rider were not allowed access to his biological passport data, or were allowed access only to year-old data? Then he’d be micro dosing “in the dark”, so to speak, and would be more likely to be caught and/or forced to dose even smaller amounts. Of course a rider could get his own blood tests to try and construct his own biological passport, but that would quickly get expensive and risky, even if it worked.
Freedom of information relating to an individual’s personal data – seems pretty important from a personal rights perspective that there is no move to withhold that
There are already situations in which data is withheld. For example, in drug clinical trials, patients are not informed if they are receiving active drug or placebo.
The rider would receive his ABP data if he is accused of doping, or after a certain period of time has passed from each test, or if the blood values indicate a medical problem.
Sorry, the “Anon” post above was mine.
Or if he just goes to his own doctor and asks for a blood test? It would be simple enough for a rider to create his own shadow ABP by getting regular blood tests. In fact it would probably be easier to do that – because he could arrange the tests at regular intervals – rather than relying on the UCI’s process of random testing.
I’m underwhelmed by the recommendations but micro-dosing, etc. is a tough nut to crack. I don’t think you could deny people their own medical information (as suggested by John Liu) and I’m not sure how much good that would do.
I do hope they start regulating others meds. No need to have a peloton loopy on pain killers and a cocktail of other pills. This seems one area where feasible solutions are possible.
On a completely different note, I found the comments on ‘ozone therapy’ and its supposed benefits enlightening as I couldn’t quite grasp why this was becoming a ‘thing’.
The report says night time testing is one way to tackle micro-dosing, also using more intelligent testing and tracking riders more is way. It does say the passport has forced riders to use smaller doses so their performance gains are reduced while the costs (financial but also the effort/subterfuge) rise. Keep pushing on this and it won’t level things but it lets healthier riders win.
I believe that the shortness of the legal testing window is the biggest shortcoming presently. I also believe that a lot of energy is being spent on doping practices (and doctors) that are decades old.
One thing any really creative cheater would take away from all that’s known about the failures from Festina to Postal is that there (1) must be a way to cheat successfully in a way that is not even in the WADA code and (2) Absolute secrecy is paramount.
So, does this mean that its possible that the whole peloton could be micro-dosing at nighttime and wont ever be caught?
Id like to know more about micro-dosing and how much it can affect performance.
I don’t think anyone is saying the whole peloton is doing this, some headlines today quote the “90%” percentage but it’s one and the whole point of the section where the quote comes from is that some riders are paranoid that someone else is getting an edge on and believe others are at it but don’t know. As the report says, some riders don’t even know all their own team mates (you might meet the whole roster once a year at pre-season camp) so knowing what others on other teams are doing is speculation.
One thing about any % estimate of “doping” depends on where the doping line is drawn. For example, pain killers or caffeine stimulants may be viewed by doping if you’re Taylor Phinney, but may be viewed as normal practice by a lot of people. On the other hand, micro-dosed blood transfusions are another end of the spectrum.
Agreed. I think they’re called “finishing bottles”? the bottles received a few km from the end of a race that’s packed with caffeine etc – now is that doping? Are oxygen tents doping? ie the point being that the line could be drawn differently by different riders like you said.
I recall Phinney discussing finishing bottles. As someone who reacts very strongly to caffeine, I’m completely against using it as a drug, whether to finish a race or help wake up in the morning.
I like alcohol and hallucinogens, but I don’t use them to wake up or help me in a race. Sure, different drugs, but I handle alcohol far better than I do caffeine.
I wish amateur cyclists on the net and ‘osphere would stop thinking it’s so cool to love cycling and coffee, it’s getting as old as the boozed up rock star.
I’ve always thought of oxygen tents as a kind of financial doping as only richer athletes can afford them.
Oxygen tent are, indeed, doping in some countries. Italy, for example.
It’s why we have WADA to set the rules.
Oxygen tents are banned in Italy but elsewhere. As for being expensive, many pro team frames or wheel sets cost more.
Necking a bidon of caffeine at the tail end of a stage would possibly account for why so many riders take anti-depressants, some of which, eg mirtazepine, have a sedative effect and should be taken at night…so the riders can get up fresh the next day to repeat the process.
Two things going on for sure because of the way testing is set up.
4:1 T/E ratio is so far out of the human range (near 1:1) it is ripe for abuse.
EPO has mutated to non-detectable variants. This is briefly mentioned, like everything else, in the CIRC report. This was covered in detail in a 2014 journal. The same journal had another Zorzoli article claiming cycling is on the forefront of …. The CIRC has debunked that and Zorzoli since dismissed from the UCI. Maybe Froome and Rasmussen was too much?
HGH and Test is an especially powerful out of competition (OOC) recovery combination. Particular to cycling, as the CIRC report states, there is plenty of room to never test positive because the testing is very sporadic and even if the doper is unlucky, the CIRC states, the UCI has hidden positives.
For me, the CIRC confirms it is still a “two speed” peloton.
I have to say chapeau for so rapidly digesting a significant document and giving summary and commentary for our collective benefit. The fact that you do this as a blog is impressive; that you do it considerably better than other (fully funded) sites is really impressive. Thank you.
Now where is the Strade report? Just kidding:)
I think I was expecting more deep dirt from the CIRC, at least as foreshadowed by Mr Cookson’s “can of worms” comments in the days preceding.
And, truthfully, as much as I want the sport to clean up, I was actually fearful that some of my favorite riders would be called out and possibly be forced to step away from classics season; my own selfish little fan omerta, perhaps, tinged with a naive hope that my favorite guys and gals are in fact clean. In some ways it is a testament to the sheer power of this sport; still undeniably beautiful, warts and all.
It seems that the CIRC was a useful, if inadequate, exercise and a needed one at that. Think, if McQuaid’s obscene political jockeying for the election resulted in him winning, the fox would still be guarding the henhouse. (Or H. V., more accurately- the fox in charge of the fox, etc.)
So, there is some reason to be pleased. Improvements are being made, and the need for far more are duly noted. Thanks again. Tip of my INRNG cap (though mine is luft-less. A defect?)
+1 The first step towards fixing a problem is admitting you have one. They’ve finally done this in writing, for the record. Now we’ll see how they go about fixing it, starting with the Astana affair?
Anyone wanting some at-the-scene, very amateur bloggery from Strade Bianche can go here if they like
I thought Vino refused to speak with them. Is he on the list simply because he was sanctioned?
SeeingElvis: it seems that Vino had a change of heart about speaking to CIRC thanks to the threat of the WT licence removal hanging over the team’s head
If you look around at your work, every second person is on some pills to be able to work. Although it is all nice saying “if you are ill, stay at home”, the pressure to function properly is immense. People “burn out” all the time, but there are only 1 or 2 professional athletes who have admitted to that. I think we as fans and the people who make a living out of it, may it be as agents, teams, race organisers, photographers and writers about the sport should be very aware that we expect our favourite rider and (the whole WT-Peloton) not only to race, but also to perform (if not well, then at least in a way that satisfies us) and if he/she isn’t giving us anything, everybody is quick to judge, often in a very ugly way. We have to decide what we want: Do we want smaller teams, a race every week and fresh news from riders and the teams every hour-then the pressure on riders to ride when they are empty, heartbroken, injured, ill or simply not well, will increase. And of course they will find a way to ease that pressure. It is their existence that depends on that.
There was a part of the report that made me consider riders who dope in a whole new light.
When it points out that the veterans on the team are isolated from the young guys who are essentially competing with each other for a contract for next year and that after 6 months of getting their heads kicked in somebody comes and offers them “something” to help them along… Could it be that this wearing down process is intentional, that isolating the younger employees allows their self worth to be eroded from that of an all conquering U23/Amateur into a guy who thinks he can’t achieve anything in his chosen profession and then along comes a helping hand to allow them to chase their dream a little longer?
I admit, this narrative is almost exactly how Bassons etc described it, but I hadn;t appreciated the psychology behind it until now.
Thanks’ for the roundup INRNG. no comment !
Vino, is that you? 🙂
I read it on the train this morning (benefits of a long commute), skimmed some of the more procedural stuff but found the differing definitions of “clean” to be grimly amusing and the idea of “middle aged businessmen doping to win masters titles” and pros unwilling to ride Gran Fondos due to the juiced pace at the front depressing and hilarious in equal measures.
That such short shrift was given to women’s cycling was disappointing given that several of their athletes, support staff and administrators took the time to testify including Nicole Cooke.
That the headline on the Telegraph is already “90% of the Peloton still doping” taken from an unnamed testimony based on god knows what only underlines the UCI’s bravery in tackling this.
Joe Papp- as the kids say, “lol”.
For me the most worrying practice still used is the TUE’s use/abuse. You want a TUE? You should stop competing, as simple as that. And something similar must be done with painkillers, too!
It needs tightening up, there’s mention of riders turning up to races with a “folders” of TUEs. If you need that much medicine, take a rest or get help. And this is before you’re taking so many “legal” supplements, anti-depressants and other medicines. The “central pharmacy” proposal looks useful.
why not a “central surgery”? a group of UCI doctors who administer these things, rather than relying on team doctors who could be totally corrupt. Only a TUE can be administered by them
Yes and one recommendation or thought is that team doctors should have other jobs outside of cycling, they can come in to patch up wounds and treat saddlesores and then go back to normal work again. This way they’re less likely to be “captured” by suspect influences or dependent on the squad’s performance for income.
I must say I agree with this. A TUE should only be issued together with a mandatory cessation of your race program for a number of days. You shouldn’t be able to abuse this system and still race.
WADA Code covers the permitted use of TUEs – you have to bear in mind that the TUE is NOT an automatic, default tool for abuse, it does have legitimate uses. Not sure where an individual sports governing body that operates very strictly under the Code, can go with flying against that.
MPCC can because its a voluntary, non-governing body, and its members enter ‘contracts’ of a sort with each other.
The use of a TUE is to help you recover from something quicker. Is that not an artificial aid? It means you are sick in some way. Sick people, some would argue, should not be racing in the first place. I assume this is why the MPCC has its 8 day rule. And you might say that makes a lot of sense.
Someone should at least be tracking who gets TUE’s and pointing the finger of suspicion at riders/teams who seem to need more than others.
You have a thumping headache – you take an aspirin to help shift it. Artificial recovery aid?
You crash in a race and have massive road rash – you take aspirin to help lessen the pain. Artificial recovery aid?
Recovery boots to speed up the process – artificial aid. Recovery tents – artificial aid.
Its all highly subjective – your personal view might differ from the guy’s next to you. Which is why the UCI have been trying to stay under the Code umbrella.
Having something to help you recover from illness is probably an artificial aid, but do we really want to go down the road of encouraging athletes to avoid getting treatment for legitimate health complaints? We already know that they’ll race whilst ill, and ensuring that they only do more damage to their systems whilst doing so seems a retrograde step.
I’d agree that all things being equal, teams would have a roughly equivalent rate of TUEs – tracking them might even enable us to see which teams appear to be particularly damaging to their rider’s health…
No TUEs for anything?
I think Team Novo Nordisk would have something to say about that.
Else Type 1 diabetes becomes a new category for para-cycling?
Few people read this stuff, but WADA’s statistics from 2013 show an extraordinary number of urinalysis positives either unsanctioned or explained away with TUEs.
As mentioned in the CIRC report was the “dutch connection” handling positives, or not, as it apparently suited them. Proof once and for all the federation was hiding positives. So, WADA process is largely theater as long as federations can hide positives like the UCI and recently the IAAF.
One of the blatant errors in the report is CADF being reported as independent when it is still a part of the UCI in every sense.
Furthermore this once more poses the question, connected to cycling for over 100 years: can the “job” as a professional cyclist as a career (meaning more than 2 or 3 years) be done without medication in one form or another? And the job is more than “just” riding almost every second day, it is a whole obsessive lifestyle (of gaining form, loosing weight etc), it is the minefield of the peloton, it is the pr, the public opinion, fans. I know the fact that many riders began doping in their third year is thought to be connected to psychological reasons, but maybe it is a combination of both – body and mind. Maybe the body can’t bounce back from efforts forever, when it has no proper rest from the same effort of a few weeks. Maybe there is a culminating (culminative?) effect of efforts attributing to this.
Surely it’s a question of degree? You might need some medicinal products to clean a wound or help if you eat something suspect and get diarrhoea during a stage race. But you don’t need the pill-popping used by some, whether it’s TUE abuse or downing Tramadol during a race etc.
I think for me (and perhaps others) the headline is “widespread doping continues”, using different techniques but also spreading over youth and and amateur cycling. This is in contrast to the narrative we usually hear from teams and riders about “the past and “previous eras” etc. and will certainly not persuade cycling’s critics that the sport has turned itself around. Mirco-doping, TUEs and the use of drugs outside testing create a picture of opportunity for those who want to walk the line between breaking doping rules and stretching moral positions. Perhaps this is true of all sports – the Australian report suggests it might – but cycling established itself as the main abuser and as a result will be judged more harshly. Taking Astana’s licence away would help, but it won’t be enough.
Or perhaps the truth nobody wants to hear, because it’s unpopular and nobody knows (till now) how to sell it, is that in professional sport there is no such thing as moral.
I used to compete at a fairly high level in another sport and there was a phrase I used to hear from time to time, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough…”
I understand the report says that doping is endemic in amateur cycling? Well thanks for that vote of confidence!
“Corticoids are widely used today both to reduce pain and therefore improve endurance capability and to achieve weight loss to improve power/weight ratio”, “dramatic weight loss in certain riders, which they felt could only be explained by use of performance enhancing products”, “Corticoids, used by Chris Froome (Sky) and Chris Horner (then Lampre-Merida) under TUEs last year, are subject to particular abuse, according to the report” ;
Is this the curtain coming down on SKY? If not, what are they saying here?
We don’t know. To extrapolate from one TUE from one rider that got leaked during the season isn’t too handy, besides the cynic says you’d take the cortisone out of competition for big time doping.
What is really needed behind the scenes is a TUE databases, the UCI could see who is taking what: which teams have the most TUEs, when are they asking for them and what substances are being used. Anything that looks odd should invite stringent testing in and out of competition.
If there isn’t a record of who had a TUE at which point, for what drug, and for what reason there certainly should be.
It does stink a bit that corticoids are taken on TUE by the most anorexically thin rider of the peloton, and they are proven to aid in weight loss.
The grapevine tells me that at every race there will be more than one rider racing with a TUE. Possibly quite a few more.
I’m no Froome fan, believe me, but lets stop obsessing over one rider – yes, even if it is Froome.
A TUE database maintained and reported by WADA is already implemented.
It’s up to the athlete to post the TUE.
What sports fans don’t have is reporting on TUEs. Similarly, there is zero reporting on the number of longitudinal anomalies in any way. I can find out how many AAF’s were detected by sport by year, but no such statistics for TUEs or longitudinal anomalies.
See here for WADA’s 2013 report.
Cycling is on page 6 and 44. 90-something positives either TUEs or unenforced in 2013. Even more suspicious values. That’s testing about 5 riders per UCI race.
Sorry, I can find out how many positives and suspicious results via *URINALYSIS* but no such stats for bio-passport.
Corticoids are very relevant for muscular metabolism, too, at least according to some old Conconi’s researches. Strange that nobody ever scrutinises that.
Great breakdown. As you say, nothing hugely revealing that hasn’t already been long suspected for the most part.
While it is creditable that the UCI had the CIRC investigate, I suspect very little will change based on what we’ve seen previously with scandals like BALCO. Despite that resulting in baseball adopting a league-wide anti-doping policy to match that of the NFL, this link to the USADA testing numbers for 2014 shows the complete and total disparity in testing among various sports. There were a whopping two tests in the NFL last year, and NONE in baseball.
Darts, tug of war, and Paralympic Boccia had more tests last year by USADA than baseball or football. I’m not making this up: http://www.usada.org/testing/results/testing-numbers/2014-testing-numbers-breakdown/
It’s not just the sport governing bodies that are part of the problem. It’s the national anti-doping agencies as well.
Like what is said – we’ve not learnt too much new here but the value is having it in a signed off UCI report, we’ve moved from accepted gossip to fact.
What we have had confirmed is the modern peloton still has doping tricks up its sleeve. The MPCC cortisone ruling is a sensible one and should be enforced at a UCI level because it’s easy to enforce and removes doubt in those races. It’s probably unfair to turn up in the middle of the night like the Gestapo for testing, so I can’t see a way around that other than that micro-dosers can be stupid and get caught (Tyler Hamilton was caught this way if I remember his book correctly).
TUE exemptions could also do with being more rigorous in order to remove doubts, maybe along the lines of the MPCC ruling for cortisone – thinking of the Chris Froome one here.
Just one thing on the point about “turning up in the middle of the night”. Wouldn’t a seven hour time window when you know you can act be a big advantage to dopers (especially micro-dopers)? Didn’t riders in the past (Lance et al) base themselves in hard to reach locales for much the same purpose?
Relying on rider stupidity does not seem like much of an anti-doping policy to me.
Personally, I think it needs to be made a criminal offence to dope. Until that is spread far and wide merely sporting sanctions will fail to be much of a deterrent., especially at a the rate of 2 years an offence. It should be 8 years.
Now this is a bit of a red herring, for me. ADOs can and do use the tactic of turning up outside the prescribed 0600-2300 window….I’m a little confused on this front.
As for criminalising doping. Stealing and killing are criminal acts, punishable by jail time – doesnt stop thiefs, burglars or killers.
Those who want to feck up their bodies by doping, will still try it on because they always think they’ll be the ones who get away with it.
But if don’t know where the athlete is then they can’t test them. The Whereabouts slot is one hour between 6am and 11pm.
From what I can tell, when they do go a-calling outside the given window the ADO doping control tend to turn up at, say, the athlete’s primary home address, or training camp or event hotel as relevant.
It *is* a criminal offence. In Italy and in Spain, at least (I don’t agree very much with that, by the way, but that’s how it is).
And France too. It does not stop things, it just makes people cover their tracks more.
It does certainly hand an advantage to the dopers – but I also think any attempt to force it would probably lose in the courts on a basic human right to sleep line realistically speaking.
making it criminal offence… hmm, I guess then we wouldn’t get Wenger sitting in a press conference saying ‘Ramsay has got a problem, but we’re giving him steroid injections all week and are hopeful he plays on Saturday…’
Don’t want to appear to be an apologist for HV & PMcQ but you could simply substitute the “UCI” for any major sports governing body and all the actions, activity and accusations would still be relevant! USOC, USATF, FIFA and the ITF all have been rumoured (and in some cases, proven) to display exactly the same behaviour!!!
Most of the money spent on the CIRCus was to try and kill Cookson’s legitimate detractor, PMcQ.
If Cookson is really serious, Makarov will be ousted. If not, then it’s “business as usual”.
Makarov will not be easily ousted. He has cleverly used finance to ingratiate himself into the sport. Its a brave man who turns away someone’s millions in a sport that loses teams and/or races every year.
So, you’re saying, that the system and the present administration is corrupt. Business as usual, nothing to see here.
I don’t think you can simply substitute another major sports governing body, to be honest – I don’t think any of them have tried to grasp the nettle in the same way that cycling has, and having seen the kicking that cycling has received I doubt they’ll be making any attempt to copy it any time soon.
-The list of interviewed riders (displayed on this site, I did not dig any deeper) contains remarkably few Italians and Spaniards. Also not on the top list is Jan Ullrich.
-the TUE and medication abuse reminds me directly of Chris Froome, with his inhaler and his TUE.
-The story about Fuentes is striking. He moves office to South America, next the Colombians are back on the scene, next Betancur is superstrong in Paris-Nice 2014, only to be back in Colombia for six months because he’s too ‘heavy’. Next, Henao is sidelined by Sky for a long period because they ‘want to study his blood values and the effect of altitude training’. And now, we get a confirmation that microdosing throughout the year is still a recurring practice, where riders try to fool the Bio Passport by creating artificial blood values throughout the entire year. 1+1+1+1=?
“The list of interviewed riders (displayed on this site, I did not dig any deeper) contains remarkably few Italians and Spaniards”.
Exhilarating… Is it possible that people are so biased in 2015? Is it some kind of racism or simply sheer nonsense? In fact, I’m considering the possibility of a joke.
No French rider. No Belgian rider. No Australian rider.
Spain has got one rider like Denmark, Germany or Netherlands.
Italy is the third most-represented nation with two riders.
Then someone *remarks* what I quoted above… delicious! 😀
Obviously enough, I’m just laughing at that kind of calculation (and, above all, at the underlying perspective which can bring a person to write a sentence like that, against numbers), not defending at all *any* kind of reflection based on those numbers.
More generally speaking, how could you hope that statistics on such a small number of individuals would ever make sense? You’ve got four USA riders and four UK riders, for very different reasons, mainly political motives: very little depends on personal attitude for most of the people who decided to speak with CIRC.
How could you ever compare the meaning of Armstrong, Cooke or Riccò’s presence in the list? Since what can bring you in the list is so different from one individual to the other, it makes even less sense to build any line of reasoning on it (let alone a nationalistic one).
And even so… o__O
Powerful ideological drives are at work, here.
The most relevant statistic in the list of witnesses is the number of active riders: just 1 as far as I can see.
And that one gets accused of cheating due to TUE use. I wonder if he was the one who said 90% of the peloton was still cheating? Even if you take the other figure quoted, 20%, that would still mean 1 in 5 riders in every race was juiced.
Good point, Nick.
Andrew E, whoever got those percentages out of his or her hat was just having a guess. They don’t mean anything, they are the same numbers you happen to hear around as always (Di Luca: “90%”; tapped phone calls between DSs in 2006 Giro: “20%”). And they ultimately don’t matter.
It’s not relevant if doping is around or not, what is relevant, IMHO, is the institutions’ attitude towards it and the qualitative impact the doping used in a given moment of time can have on riders’ health.
What I’m worried about is physical and psychological devastation of riders, as it happens when doping goes especially wild, and/or the heavy shift in sporting results that an unfair – political, strategical – management of the doping problem by institutions induces far more than any possible personal decision of cheating (cycling is still some kind of “collective” sport where individual performance is negotiated through team performance and the common reaction by the rest of rival riders/teams: if you are the one mad dog doping – or doping “more” or doping “too much” – without any kind of superior organisation, you maybe get to win a couple of race, but, feel assured not very much more than that).
And, yeah, about Froome: it wasn’t just the TUE use, let’s try to be frank. It’s how that TUE was issued. And, we can now add, by whom (not that we didn’t know Zorzoli before, but now he’s in the press, so everyone can understand why some eyebrows were raised by Froome’s TUE).
Where do you want to stop? Uran’s huge improvement in TTing? That youg Gaviria chap is very fast, had beaten Cav twice, and Colombia dont have a track record of producing great sprinters?
Think we have to be careful here.
I do not think it is accurate to report the CIRC to be saying “Armstrong got special treatment like Contador and others”. What the CIRC describes, with regard to Lance Armstrong, is no less than a complete long-term collusion between the UCI and Armstrong’s management and legal counsel, who was simply writing the UCI’s positions (and even part of its “independent” reports, such as Émile Vrijman’s). The CIRC also comfirms the worst suspicion with regard to Armstrong: that the UCI accepted to be instructed by the Texan to put anti-doping pressure on rivals, prior to the TdF, when their performances at the Dauphiné seemed threatening. Neither Contador nor anyone else have enjoyed such an indisputable level of competitive favour.
“Was Contador given special treatment?
Yes because three members of the UCI travelled to Spain to inform Alberto Contador that one of his samples from the 2010 Tour de France was positive for clenbuterol, an unlikely procedure amounting to special treatment”.
This is true, but it’s totally misleading to compare Contador’s case with Armstrong’s. Cyclingnews makes top headline with this stuff…
Compare “privilege = telling you in person” with “not taking you out of the TdF”.
Compare “informing you ARE positive” with “informing you that you have dangerous levels (while publicly silencing everything or questioning the tests)”… so that you can maybe put in place better doping practices, as it looks like to be Schattenberg’s usual line of action.
Also note that inrng reports “Did Lance Armstrong bribe the UCI? No says the CIRC”. A reading that’s a bit too clear-cut, IMHO.
I dont’know how could we define “bribe”, but the CIRC explicitly rebukes accepting donations from Lance Armstrong and observes that:
“Lance Armstrong’s financial assistance was also requested on several occasions, whether directly in April 2008 to finance the ABP with a payment of USD 100,000 or indirectly to assist in securing sponsors to finance cycling events or UCI itself”.
“To bribe”, in English as a wider sense, not limited to illegal pacts of exchange: “to induce or INFLUENCE by OR AS IF BY bribery”. We can also see that in the M.W.’s definition of the substantive “bribe”: “money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust”.
The CIRC didn’t find evidence of direct corruption, that is, couldn’t find specific evidence “BESIDES A TEMPORAL CORRELATION” (which could be enough in some courts) between the financial transactions (money “requested” and money “donated”) and the subsequent UCI decisions.
Nevertheless CIRC says that “the UCI did not act prudently in soliciting and accepting donations from an athlete, and all the more so from an athlete in respect of whom there were suspicions of doping”.
CIRC is being very cautious here, but I’d say that what happened sits, at the very least, in the gray area between straightforward corruption and the wider meaning of bribery in English language.
Let’s go back to Contador. Inrng also writes:
“CIRC says there was no cover-up because WADA was informed, instead the UCI was hesitating given the small dosage detected. The CIRC says the UCI should not have sat back: it should have followed procedure and prosecuted earlier”.
After a (maybe too) rapid reading of CIRC report about Contador, I think this may be incorrect. I really couldn’t find where the CIRC says “UCI shouldn’t etc.”.
CIRC says: “There were, thus, good reasons to investigate the matter further before making the case against Alberto Contador public”.
That is, the same CIRC justifies not going public in the first place.
CIRC describes what happened as follows: “a discussion took place between UCI, WADA, experts and laboratories, and further analysis was undertaken to assess how best to handle the results management process. A review of UCI data shows that the UCI legal department was not in favour of opening a procedure on the basis of the clenbuterol finding only, given their concern about the high possibility of failure. WADA lawyers on the other hand maintained a procedure had to be opened, as it was an ADRV but agreed that further investigation needed to be undertaken to check if the meat contamination scenario held up”.
UCI hesitation was motivated and openly shared with WADA. CIRC doesnt’ find anything to blame in this course of action (neither WADA really does: “agreed etc.”).
CIRC further stresses this point: “The CIRC has found no evidence to show that UCI tried to hide the positive test of Alberto Contador. WADA had been informed about the positive test and was involved in the discussion regarding the results management of the case”. WADA has always been involved in the case’s management.
What CIRC says about “following procedures” is clearly referred to “that the rider was notified in person in his country about his ADRV”. Not at all to any kind of “early prosecution”, which would be contradictory with what the same CIRC assessed above.
Even more important, CIRC underlines that Contador’s case isn’t all a bed of roses for the Spanish rider.
1) “The Commission regrets again the violation of the duty of professional secrecy when the
positive test was leaked to the press… such cases should be seriously investigated in order to respect the athlete’s right to privacy as well as his/her rights for due process”.
This is a *very special* kind of treatment, not “favourable” at all.
2) the CIRC remarks that the choice to send the samples to the *special* lab of Cologne configures an “unequal treatment” (literal quote).
All the samples from the 2010 Tour besides those taken on July 12 and 21 were sent to the Lausanne laboratory for testing, but “only the Cologne laboratory was at that time capable of detecting the minuscule thresholds of clenbuterol in Alberto Contador’s sample”.
Neither this looks like to be an especially favourable kind of treatment (even if it wasn’t reserved just to Contador).
All in all, UCI’s attitude towards Contador has been at least ambivalent.
The “special treatment” he received, according to CIRC, ONLY consisted of being informed in person of the adverse finding. No cover up, no undue delay. Even negative “unequal treatment” and a certain lack of respect of his rights for due process were observed by CIRC in Contador’s case, what – still being the same or better than what most riders receive – couldn’t be more different from what Armstrong got.
Hence, I find it very misleading to associate the two situations, even if in mere grrammatical terms.
Except, Contador would never have turned positive without Seppelt’s story hanging over their heads like an executioners blade.
And then no effort was made to deny him racing entirely unlike other potentially sanctioned athletes.
He got back on the bike just in time for a grand tour.
Very, very much like Armstrong, Contador is favored by the UCI. Why? I have no idea.
You cannot say that he wouldn’t have been caught or sanctioned without the journalistic story, because that would mean WADA, who was kept in the loop, would have failed to go after him, which you have no reason to believe (and I’m sure you don’t). And the CIRC does not think that even the UCI’s hesitations were unfounded.
Thereafter, the procedure was in the hands of his national federation (not the UCI), and then the CAS (who decided Contador should be sanctioned until August 2012, not the UCI). Why do you guys continue offending facts and reason in order to put the two cases on similar footing? Why, oh why??
Sorry Ferdi, you don’t understand the WADA standard.
The UCI was the anti-doping authority. The authority to declare a positive rested with the UCI in that case. The positive was declared, then sent to Contador’s national federation for adjudication. Just as the WADA standard dictates.
Please read the WADA standard. Unlike UCI documents, the language is very easy to understand.
So, channel_zero, why did they told WADA in the first place? (It’s a true question). If they were UCI tests, was the lab due to report immediately the results to WADA, too? CIRC doesn’t explain the chain of information, I’d like that to be shared, if you know something about it.
So… Di Luca or Santambrogio?
Could even be Ricco
Nah, Ricco was already gone by 2013 and the car park incident was 2014. Plus Ricco is named and I thought this was an un-named rider?
Froome out of Tirreno-Adriatico. Chest infection. No TUE?
Not the best day to ask for a TUE, is it
Given that none of us are familiar with his current medical state of health any speculation would be uninformed and of little use past gossip.
The comments are relevant, actually. Given that 11 months ago he had a chest infection – the reason given for his withdrawal here – and requested a TUE during Tour of Romandie.
And you know, for a fact, that the “chest infection” he had then and the one now are exactly the same thing, having the same cause and requiring the same treatment?
No, I thought not. Gossip from (and for) the uninformed.
My comment was because this is probably more serious than the prior infection so a TUE wouldn’t be of any help. Get off your high horse.
And FTR Andrew E, you might care to listen to Lionel Birnie’s interview with Brailsford just released by the Cycling Podcast today. Birnie asks Brailsford specifically whether the furore over Froome’s TUE last year had any bearing on Sky not applying for one for him to start T-A. Brailsford’s answer pretty much confirms that it did. From this discussion you might actually see that both my post and Tovarisch’s were relevant.
Was I accusing Froome of something illicit? No. So stop trying to stop posts.
Zorzoli no longer works at the UCI!!!
I might have missed the story on the panel to replace Zorzoli.
There’s a tendency for some commenters in the thread to say
1. We’ve heard it all before. It’s official now, but little new.
2. We all know other sports are as bad.
Maybe, but that’s avoiding the report’s assertion that cycling as a sport has a continuing doping problem. That’s the depressing headline for fans hoping it would conclude that cycling has cleaned itself up, or is well on the way to doing so. It’s a fair point that the CIRC’s assertion is based on testimony rather than evidence, and much of that testimony comes from people who justify their doping on the basis that “everyone was doing it”, but there was apparently little testimony to the contrary, and the world at large may well conclude the sport is still mired in malpractice.
EVERY sport is mired in malpractice.
“….depressing headline for fans hoping it would conclude that cycling has cleaned itself up, or is well on the way to doing so.” If Mr. Mars and The Mad Hatter were still in charge that’s the kind of report we’d have seen. How many times have we heard the “It’s all in the past folks, all cleaned up now. Nothing to see here!” baloney? I don’t much care what other “sports” do, I just want cycling cleaned up to the point a guy or gal playing by the rules has a chance to win. There was some reference in the report that this is more the case than before…which is good news to me. Now we wait and see what happens with Astana in a few weeks time.
Cookson’s no better; Astana is just a red herring whose void will be filled with another Makarov team.
If you really believe that, put your money where your mouth is and give us your real name.
Rodger. Feel better?
Except the Kazhakhs are not Russian.
They appear to be running their own show in every sense of the term, including raising the ire of the CIRC who called them out for some kind of bad behaviour.
Good news!!! 2015 is the year a WADA lab is certified in Kazhakhstan. Almaty is trying to win a Winter Olympics bid. Still, the UCI does not seem to embrace Kazhakhstan. Maybe their checks aren’t so good?
Yes, I know that Kazakhs are not Russian. And it’s Makarov who does not embrace the Kazakhs, who seem to be beating Makarov’s Russians at their own game.
CIRC is a tool of Cookson, who is a tool of Mak. Remember when Bjarne was all tied up and ready to be burned at the stake? Not too long ago? What turned that around? Was it a coincidence that Bjarne sold the team, to a Russian just before CN stopped printing what a bad guy he was??
Anonymous, you clearly have a problem with Cookson but note Makarov and Tinkov haven’t been on friendly terms. Tinkov felt hard done by when the oligarch took over his team Tinkoff Credit Systems team which since became Katusha.
The problems between Makarov and Tinkov are about two different size fish.
The problem with Cookson is that he has not one success in his resume, he is not a leader, he’s spent his life hiding at work, and yet, here he is, King of the UCI after a gambling software engineer abused a process error in the Irish nomination, Makarov money funded his campaign (why not Cookson publish his campaign contributions? That would be illuminating..), and then they invented, Invented!, an empty dossier and alluded to McQ corruption. Makarov is dirtier than Thom Weisel and LA and yet everyone’s whinging about Vino.
Wasn’t Cookson also the Track Commisaire who, under Verbruggen, spent so much energy trying to disqualify Obree? I think he might have had a hand in that.
You have created, hands down,one of, if not, the best cycling reading of this era. I have watched your writing improve, your insight grow and have loved every minute I waste here. But, sometimes, with regard to Cookson, your anglo gets in the way.
When Cookson’s done, nothing will be cleaner, the sport will still be corrupt just in a more organized fashion, and race fixing will not be fun stories like Poulidor, but large scale controlled by Russian invested online gambling houses.
That is why Cookson is Pres. Match fixing, gambling. In 15 years they won’t even care if you know..
ah. Now I think I know who Anonymous with his Cookson thing is.
The poster formerly known as LM, if I’m not mistaken. The ill-informed and very erroneous crack about Cookson stopping Obree on the track, is the decider for me. Thats a repeat of a post from the artist formerly known as LM. (Cookson was busy organising Tour of Lancashire at the time, dear poster, nowhere near Obree’s Hour attempt that the UCI thwarted. As has been previously pointed out to you).
Seriously, cant you find a more positive outlet for your anger on behalf of departed-but-not-missed Pat?
Sam – Nail, Head, Hit.
You beat me to the LM punch.
Well said to the comment from Larry below as well.
I think most people that comment here don’t believe cycling is 100% clean nor do they expect it ever will be. They just want as level a playing field as possible. We all have are own biases, people we assume dope and those we think are prime instigators in continuing the practices of the past/present but how throwing mud at these people will change anything for the positive is beyond me.
I read the comments hoping to be illuminated, whether that be in gaining knowledge or reading about ideas that are for the good of the sport. Tired and hackneyed misinformation is as welcome as a fresh pot hole on nasty corner.
Sorry all, just had to get that off my chest.
I’ll let you reply to the ‘Cookson’s the same’, Astana’s a red herring’ stuff….
If you can be bothered 🙂
Re: Ian and the call for names on comments during the last weeks: I was till a few days ago using my name, when commenting, but in the wake of all the name-bullying of the anonymousses by some going on here, I decided to only post as anonymous from now on, at first only because I don’t like bullying. Before that I was partly simply just used to tag comments with my name, partly I thought it was “the right thing to do”. But having thought further about it, I now have a different opinion: People have different reasons for not writing their name on comments in a blog (by the way: you are commenting on the blog of someone who isn’t telling who she/he/they/it is for some of those reasons, if you haven’t noticed. How come you didn’t address your request in the same manner also to Inner Ring?): Some may simply don’t care to give a name, because in the end it doesn’ t change anything and doesn’t add any value. The comment, opinion and intent stays the same. Some may decide to not post their name because they don’t need approval. Some may want to keep their name completely out of the net. Some may want to say something, but don’t want their name being connected with it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with all of that, we are only commenting and exchanging opinions here!! And last, as already pointed out by many before: with a name (and an emailadress) you can be anybody in the net. I could write comments under the name Ian or Inner Ring or Eddy Merckx or my own name. I could even use a new name every time. Would that help you or change my comment? No, it makes absolutely no difference. So what is important: The opinion or the name? Or does the opinion only count with the right name? If some want or need their name to be known that’s fine, but please let other people simply make their own decisions. Sorry, it is off-topic to the report, but I just had to say something.
I’m going to try to avoid responding to or commenting on posts from Anonymous. As I said before I think unless there are some special conditions (which Mr. Inrng could referee like elsewhere with the “Secret Pro”) if you don’t have the guts to put your real name on your comments, I can’t take whatever you post here too seriously.
I don’t understand the posts who are 100% cynical. To them it’s all crooked, all about money, corrupt through-and-through. Always has been and always will be. I don’t understand why anyone would pay attention to pro cycling if this is their attitude. Why not watch (and comment) on WWE where everyone knows it’s just for entertainment and not a sport? Sometimes I think those who insist everyone cheats do so to rationalize their own failures as cyclists. If they believe that even 1% of their competitors are clean, but they still couldn’t win, this reflects on their own merits as cyclists. Sport is designed to see how you measure up and I believe a lot of cynics just don’t want to know, so they retreat behind the “everyone else dopes” mantra to justify their own failures.
Larry, the biggest reason you post here and use your real name is to attempt to drum up business.
THAT is super lame.
Keep it going, Larry. You and I dont always agree, but that’s healthy debate.
As for Anonymous’s last post…cheap and pathetic.
Right. On with healthy debate…
+1 . Larry, I appreciate your input – and I had no idea what your day job was until now!
quickly on the anonymous thing, I don’t really care either way, but a name/nickname does help the flow of dialogue, as when several anonymouses are in a thread it can get confusing as to who is who.
Its naive to think that something changes and things just go away. Those who want to, or are encouraged to, cheat will just find a new way to do a similar thing. That’s way anti-doping will always be a constant thing.
But this report wasn’t just about doping. It was also about corruption. Its good to have an official report say that Verbruggen was dodgy and McQuaid was his bitch. Its good to have the finger pointed at Makarov, a man who should probably be removed of any UCI position.
There aren’t miracles cures here, just concerted, steady, constant progress in the right direction.
It is interesting though, and should be to you who were just harping on gossip and rumor, that “Verbruggen is dodgy and McQ was his bitch” were just anonymous opinions, Non?
For all we really know, half of this report could be nothing but fiction. Just like Makarov’s dossier. The one that helped Cookson get elected…
The report does say the passport has helped a lot, some will focus on some slipping through the net but it is allowing others to compete clean.
Thank you, thank you. This blog regularly brings perspective, insight and a comprehensive scope to issues treated in a cursory manner for the other cycling media. With the CIRC report this is especially so.
Again, thank you.
According to BBC national radio news today, 90% of pro cyclists are still “cheating” or call it what you like. Mr and Mrs Jo Average hear just this headline and the fact remains in their mind that cycling is dirty, immoral and full of cheats and they don’t want to know anymore. How depressing.
It’s inevitable, the media will latch onto numbers like this and then report them. Bare it mind when they cover any subjective subject from politics to culture, any big juicy numbers make the headlines.
I wonder who told them the 90% figure? Was it Danilo 90% Di Luca?
very big + 1
Or Ricardo Ricco
You can’t believe much that comes from either one of these guys.
It seems to me anti-doping needs to get past the stage of sticking needles into people and bleeding them: less invasive testing procedures need to be developed to monitor on a more continuous basis.
A lot of it is, the bio-passport is a statistical tool really. Even when some are caught for EPO it can because their passport shows a suspect value and then old samples can be re-tested for EPO and the rider is caught.
INRNG, thanks once again for an excellent digestion of the facts – the report itself makes for interesting reading.
As an aside, are you aware of how long Ozone has been on the banned list? I’ve had a hunt around, but can’t find anything. I ask because of the Van Avermaet situation, obviously enough – it’s not a treatment we hear much about.
If it’s manipulating blood then it’s banned. As for GVA some people are making the leap between him visiting the doctor and the claims the doctor practiced ozone therapy, I have not seen it said that he did use this. Instead there is talk of “recovery products”. But if it was injected, GVA apparently visited the doctor in the summer of 2011, weeks after the UCI’s needle ban came into force so potential to be caught this way.
Ah of course, thanks 🙂
Thanks innring for the usual superb analysis.
I was interested to see Dietrich Thurau listed as a participant. As he was a Merckx contemporary I’d be interested on what he had to say. Also, wonder if the Indurain period was examined as I never read much about speculation on his performances.
Officially they could only investigate 1998-2013.
According to an interview with Cookson early part of last year, the Commission were given leeway to delve back earlier if they deemed it relevant – the UCI didn’t tie them absolutely to 1998.
The million dollar question was Nibali clean when he won the 2014 Tour de France? Two Astana riders have tested positive recently. I do not think he was clean. I suggest there is still a culture of doping in the Astana team . Ban Astana before the 2015 tour. Is there any hope for cycling ? What do you say to a young aspiring cyclist in the light of the latest report issued by the UCI?
Just seen Lampre exiting MPCC my shoddy Italian is letting me down,but it don’t look good. Cycling is like farming, it’s always “Jam tomorrow”. Trouble is when your churning the butter,the loaves are burning.
I just waited for the first comment like this! No. What they are saying is that they can’t be part of the MPCC, because that would require actions that are NOT in line with employment laws! Even professional sport does not exist in a lawless fantasybubble.
That’s not quite true. They could pay him but not race him. The MPCC doesn’t state he had to be sacked just that he shouldn’t race.
We all don’t know the exact contractual situation. But it isn’t this simple as just letting him not compete and it isn’t only about the payment of his salary. He could take them to court anyway, because he could argue that his value depends on getting results, being visible, having racedays and in the end the court rules they have to pay compensations for that or they rule they have to let him ride anyway.
You’re correct to say we don’t know the exact contractual situation but it would be highly unlikely there isn’t a get out clause in relation to a rider being found guilty of a doping offence. Surely this is a case of Lampre preferring to keep the rider above following the MPCC rules they signed up to. It’s entirely their desicion of course but to start using employment laws and the like is no more than a smokescreen. (assuming that they are legally able to cancel/end his contract).
Lampre ditching MPCC makes me wonder about keeping the defending champion out of the Vuelta last year. If all that was about was the cortisol levels, why didn’t they bail out back then so they could race that fellow? Makes me wonder if that was merely an excuse…especially when they then failed to renew the guy’s contract?
The general news media coverage of CIRC that I’ve seen makes me believe pro cycling has sunk even lower than after the BigTex fiasco…so there’s nowhere to go but up, Cookie and Co! We’re all waiting to see whether action backs up words, starting with Astana. If they skate away with some wimpy penalty I might join the 100% cynics with their “same at it ever was” mantra, though all the dope in the world would never have made me worth a s__t as a bicycle racer 🙂
I am tired of the old stories but realize they are valuable.
What we need are coaches/parents/trainers/teachers who have the guts to say “Look, young cyclist, if you enjoy cycling and racing, great. Maybe you’ll be a decent amateur someday. If you are better than that, bully for you. But (with apologies to Justice Brennan, ( I believe)) doping is like pornography, one knows it when one sees it. If you think you are cheating, then you are, and there is no honor in that. Because when you look back, and you can say I tried as hard as I could without breaking the rules, you’ll be a happier person.”
I just want to say to everybody, as good as this post from INRNG is: If you are interested in more than just juicy dopingstories (the report was never meant for that btw): Please read the report for yourself! It says so much more and is about much more than doping and shows clearly the structures that brought cycling to this point. It is very clear after reading the report that we all have to push for different structures in our own federations and the UCI, if something has to change for the better. And the current path to set the sport up as solely as a business isn’t the right way. That is partly what created the problems of the last 20 -30 years in the first place (stated very clearly in the report). Someone who is dependend on the profit of a team/league/race should only be in charge of exactly that: The profit and bussines-side and not more!
An excerpt from the report: “….As one source summarises, “the UCI chose business to be the priority for the sport. The primary concern was the commercial and international development of cycling and the arrival of Lance Armstrong was an extraordinary opportunity, a real success story, and the UCI closed its eyes to the rest.” Another source considered that within UCI, Lance Armstrong was considered “the illustration of the success of professional cycling and that if he fell, everyone would fall with him.””
Always a great job done by you Inrng, thanks for the work and time spent.
With thoughtful additions from all.
We can perhaps leap to a few conclusions. From these, I can also imagine several discussions between Verbruggen and McQuaid discussing real percentages of the pro peleton using banned practices. They must have known the number was around 80% I am guessing…
Verbruggen and McQuaid belong in prison for fraud and theft. Simple!
Another positive for Ag2r. Let’s see how many want their WT license taken…
From a rider who is on the team since 2004 and professionally never rode for another team. That is really a different dimension!
There was a report in the paper the other day about finally having proven institutionalized doping in German football (soccer if you’re in the US) in the 80s. On page 15 or so. CIRC made the front page…..
Great article INRNG as usual great insight and thoughtful application.
UCI ohhh!!!!! the shame now 2 decades on an we still cant get it right