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Taking One For The Team

The subject of collective punishment is in the news with Jonathan Vaughters’ old quote about stopping his team being reheated and, less prominent but all the more real, the current suspension of the Androni team and now the possibility of Katusha being banned given Giampaulo Caruso’s EPO sample following Luca Paolini Tour exit.

At first glance it makes sense because if a team has a couple of doping problems in a year then maybe a pause for reflection could do it some good. But the more you think about it, the more it risks hitting innocent riders.

This subject was touched on yesterday’s “shorts” piece but worth exploring further because it has applied to teams before and is in the rulebook for 2015.

In summary the rule says two doping cases on the team in 12 months mean the team us suspended. Interestingly though the highlighted paragraph c) is a strange one because it says if no team member or staff was involved then the suspension can be lifted: invert this and it suggests the suspension exists if a team member was enabling the rider in their doping.

All this has been new for 2015 after the UCI copied the MPCC’s idea of a collective suspension, you might remember Astana and Ag2r La Mondiale having to sit out races because of it.

Now the Androni team is sitting out a suspension following two positives on its team, or rather the A-sample positive of Fabio Taborre… a whole team stopped on the basis of the A-sample. Still, if possible, try to set aside our thoughts on this team, whether signing ex-Ferrari clients and busted passport types like Franco Pellizotti or the CIRC report’s accounts of suspect nutritionists. Whatever this team is doing probably isn’t enough but this piece is more a question of principle… although we’ll return to Androni again below.

Fair?Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is Enemy Action” wrote Ian Fleming in a James Bond novel. It might be a good rule for a paranoid secret agent to treat a series of events as part of a deliberate conspiracy but building a sports punishment system on this principle is debatable. Suspending a whole team on the basis of two positives is a hit to riders who’ve had nothing to do with the doping story. For example to make the point that team mates aren’t together that much it’s common for riders to meet at their annual team presentation or pre-season camp and then go their separate ways all year with different race calendars. To exaggerate to make a point it would mean that had Festina been stopped then so would Christophe Bassons, had Cofidis been caught, David Moncoutié would be halted too.

Tom Danielson

Floyd Landis wore a baseball cap backwards too

Instead this suspension policy just looks tough. Jonathan Vaughters’ quote about stopping his team in the event of a positive test probably sounded good at the time but it’s the wrong kind of of action. Nobody likes doping stories but “something must be done” doesn’t mean doing anything. As a comment yesterday suggested, the collective punishment could have perverse incentives as it encourages teams to actively cover up doping if they suspect it, rather than hanging a rider out to dry. A team manager could hint that should a rider wish to cross the line then they’d do better to work with a preferred “doctor” to help professionalise it. In no time we’ve gone from a lone idiot to a conspiracy only the chances of detection might have just fallen.

Much more than the riders, the managers do have a responsibility here. Perhaps the hit could be applied somehow to team management because they’re the ones tasked with running things. But how? It’s here we see the difficulty because if we imagine imposing a fine it’s hard to see this surviving legal challenge in a case where the rider involved a doping case has done it without the complicity of a manager. In each case you end up suspending, banning or fining people or may well have had nothing to do with it.

You could say in a free market riders know of the risk of suspension and should prefer to join a clean team or one with such a reputation so that their careers are not interrupted by cheating colleagues. Over time talent would flow to the safer teams. Only this theory only goes so far, as we’ve seen even teams that don’t have the pantomime villain reputation like Cannondale-Garmin and Ag2r La Mondiale are at risk as much as Astana or Rusvelo that do. More demonstratively this market idea would say sponsorship would dry up for teams and managers with reputation for scandal

ISSUL? It’s here the ISSUL team audit could be a good idea. You’ll remember this is a new audit programme being tested by the UCI on some World Tour teams. It involves checking a team’s internal workings to make sure riders are well supported, for example is there coaching on offer, are riders given objectives and a plan for the season and other things to make give a rider tasks to complete with the team’s backing which will reward them with a bonus, an increase or a contract renewal. Certainly a team that’s not on this programme could be invited to join at their cost, in exchange for the suspension being lifted and a team that’s on the programme could get a more forensic audit.

Androni: the CIRC report mentioned a nutritionist on a team helping with doping and a recent edition of The Cycling Podcast said what everyone thought: it was the Androni team after all. It turns out one rider on the team informed on this “nutritionist” and action was taken to remove her. So this rider took a brave stand to do something and spoke out… and he’s now sitting out a month’s suspension because of Fabio Taborre’s EPO positive.

Teams with two or more doping cases in 12 months can be suspended from racing. You can see the argument in support as it makes team managers work harder to prevent this, it turns the problem of a “lone wolf” testing positive into a general concern for the team’s future. The greater the cost of a doping case, the greater the deterrent. It looks tough too, the UCI takes action that few other sports would dream off and it helps close the gap between the UCI and the MPCC rules.

But a team punishment is just that, it hits a whole squad and is only fair if the squad itself was at fault. When innocent riders get stopped from racing then they’re paying the price for sharing the same jersey as the cretin who decided to use EPO rather than buying into a conspiracy. Missing a month of racing can be very detrimental to a rider’s season, a 30 suspension can cast a much longer shadow. The price to pay? A deterrent? Or just the illusion of looking tough which actually hits the innocent. We’ll see what time brings.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andrew Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 7:32 pm

    Perhaps peer pressure works, I am not sure.

  • Shawn Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 7:40 pm

    How exactly can a team prove that it has “applied all due diligence and took all measures that could be reasonably expected in order to avoid the commission of anti-doping rule violations”? This seems like an especially heavy burden of proof. Are these standards explained elsewhere by the UCI?

    More generally, if this rule was publicly known prior to riders signing contracts (as opposed to retroactively introduced), it wouldn’t be so objectionable to me. The lost opportunities for racing would result from a moral risk one takes by willingly joining an organization where other members’ choices and actions could affect you adversely. This isn’t the same as collective punishment where you share supposed guilt or culpability. Instead, you are liable to some loss–even though you didn’t contribute directly to the violation–as a means of holding the organization you freely joined responsible.

    • Krølle Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 9:07 am

      > How exactly can a team prove that it has “applied all due diligence and took all measures that could be reasonably expected in order to avoid the commission of anti-doping rule violations”? This seems like an especially heavy burden of proof. Are these standards explained elsewhere by the UCI?

      I think that in a case like that of Luca Paolini a team will have no problems arguing that they did not encourage him to use cocaine. How could you possibly prevent a rider from partying when he is off work? I agree that the wording of the “due diligence” part is pretty vague, giving the UCI lots of room for interpretation (ranging from “We told them not to dope on this seminar in November,” to “We test all of our riders several times a day.”).

  • BC Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 9:31 pm

    As today’s news shows, there are certain well known teams more prone to doping than others. Why should this be the case ? If this fact is obvious to so many, how do you propose to implement a meaningful deterrent, if it is not directed at the teams as well as individuals. If I recall correctly it was Larry who made the point that the old chestnut of ‘ he did it on his own’ does not fit well with the evidence nor the reality.

    There has to be a meaningful deterrent to doping for teams as well as individuals. To think otherwise is to end up in a moral maze, where answers always appear round the next corner.

    PS Fingers missed the u and hit the y four lines above the Danielson photo – much not mytch.

    • Anonymous Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:32 pm

      But a test from 2012 which gets evaluated in 2015 shows exactly and perfectly, why sanctions for a whole team are just wrong. Morally wrong. To punish innocent people is wrong. And because others (dopers) do something wrong, we can’t answer with something that is equally wrong. Nothing justifies that. If we play it that way, we can let go of all rules. If it doesn’t matter anymore, if you actually do something wrong or not – for what do we need rules? If the whole Team Katusha would be punished for Paolini’s cocaine-case in 2015 and Caruso’s doping (I think these are the 2 cases in a 12-month period?), which was done in 2012 -and that is the only thing that can be proven right now-, you would punish people who weren’t even on the same team, maybe someone who wasn’t even a pro back then. I can’t see how this is legal or how we can ask people to do the right thing and to not dope, when we on the other hand would punish the same people for doing the right thing and not to dope, but having the bad luck to be in the same team with someone who did. A rider has no voice in the other riders a team hires. So what you do with such a sentence is, that you once more punish the honest ones, because others break the rules. That’s not just or fair. Why do we sanction doping? One part is, to protect those who play by the rules. You see, where this is going? In no way makes a collective punishment, unaffected by actual guilt, any sense in my mind. I totally understand the emotional need to do something, anything! But that is just the wrong thing to do. I would think a direction in which it makes sense to think further, is the question of implementing fines for the people, who are responsible for the rider in the team (may it be a team owner, coach, a DS etc.).

      • RonDe Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:45 pm

        I’m sure Ilnur Zakarin is all broken up that an innocent like him might be punished.

      • Joe 90 Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 1:58 pm


        • Joe 90 Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 2:00 pm

          +1 to anonymous. I think he/she summed up the push and pull of the issue brilliantly.

  • RonDe Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 9:58 pm

    The drugs issue has long been a farce. The authorities weasel out of proper sanctions, the teams say “We are so surprised!” and the riders make their choices. As a subject this has been done to death with as much hot air as informed science talked about it. But none of it gets us anywhere. I’m convinced it will always be a battle and people will always make the calculation to cheat. All I’d like to see is simple lifetime bans. It won’t stop cheating but it will punish it.

  • Larry T. Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:03 pm

    I promised no more from me on this, but you’ve opened the worm can again! I keep hearing about fairness and the poor guys who don’t cheat getting screwed over. They are already getting screwed over – by the cheaters! If I was the king of pro cycling your team would be kicked out of whatever races you were in when your doping positive became known. So Garmin wouldn’t have been able to just toss Danielson over the cliff and go on to win the race with Dombrowski. I might even be so draconian as to DQ your team from say, the TdF if a guy on your team was discovered to be doped while racing there, even if the cheating wasn’t discovered until long after your captain stood on the podium in Paris. All the hardcore fans here need to take a few steps back and look at the sport’s problems from a distance. Doping has been tacitly allowed pretty much since the beginning with uneven and ineffectual attempts to stop it until big money sponsors got so tired of it WADA was created. In pro cycling’s case I don’t think much has improved and the sponsors who aren’t there seem to reflect this. Trying to keep things “fair” and not punish the innocents has not worked very well. As the latest Katusha scandal breaks pro cycling takes another direct hit. As king of cycling, I would impose drastic, draconian measures to clean it up as at this point there’s not much to lose. Perhaps two doping cases in 12 months means your team loses its license rather than just sits out for 30 days. This is sport after all, if you don’t want to play by the rules, go get a real job!

    • TheDude Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 4:06 am

      Yep. I figured J.V. should put his money where his mouth is and pull the entire team at Utah.

    • DieHard Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 10:15 am

      I agree. I also think the lone wolf thing is sometimes exaggerated as more often than not team managers or doctors are aware when something is going on. They might not know exactly what, but without external pressure to do something about it, they’ll keep their mouths shut because it can only bring them good. Winning takes the pressure of the entire team and keeps the sponsor happy. And when they get caught, you throw them out of the team and you can pretend he was a lone wolf.

      As Larry T. said: lose rules haven’t brought us anywhere.

      • noel Thursday, 20 August 2015, 9:13 am

        …and yet when Sky pulled Henao for a few months to clear up what looked like strange findings plenty of folks queued up to slate them… (altho I guess they would get slated by some even if they won the Nobel Peace Prize…)

  • Canocola Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:03 pm

    Interestingly, I’m becoming more open to lifetime bans (or at least extended ones) – a few years ago I thought that given the state of the sport, encouraging (hopefully) former dopers to speak out and rehabilitate themselves held some value – even if it wasn’t perfect. Now that the sport has moved on somewhat I think that there’s increasingly less value in doing so – although I’m also surprised that teams are taking the risk on some of these riders.

    Am I right in thinking that cycling would like to move towards four year bans but can’t because of the WADA code, or did I imagine that?

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 9:39 am

      Four year bans are the norm now, the new WADA Code has this.

  • Dave Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:06 pm

    Simpler question- is “2 tests in 12 months” applicable when one is a re-test of a 2012 sample? If it is its even more unfair- could effect riders and staff who weren’t even with the team in 2012.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 9:41 am

      The rule says “notification” so strictly-speaking the 2012 date of the sample doesn’t matter as Caruso and the team were notified this week. But I wonder if this is going to be finessed by the UCI? Very tricky if they try to undermine their own rules, especially as it concerns a team owned by a member of their Management Committee.

      • Nick Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 6:10 pm

        Did the rules allow for collective sanctioning in 2012? If not, the UCI would be undermining them if sought to apply a collective sanction now to a 2012 offence.

        My preference would be to disqualify entire teams from any event in which one of them was busted for doping – as with relay teams in the Olympics. That way it is the team of 9 of which a rider is part that affects his results, not the wider squad. And as he benefits from his team-mates’ efforts, so he suffers for their misconduct.

  • Carton Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:16 pm

    Hate to disagree with you but I’m 100% behind the UCI on this one. For riders and managers, talking the talk on doping is ridiculously easy. Slamming “lone wolf” dopers is something the likes of Vinokurov can already sleepwalk through.

    You’re overstating the risk of perverse incentives: an organized program could yield 8 or 9 positives and shut down a team. Even more so if a rider confesses for a reduced sanction.

    For tough sanctions to actually work they have to, unfortunately, be hard on everyone, including accomplices and sometimes even nearby ostriches. Being hard on Blackstone’s formulation, on the other hand, would push sport, and particularly cycling, into nothing but pantomime.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 9:42 am

      Disagreement is welcome, the whole point is to examine these ideas and share views.

      • BH Thursday, 20 August 2015, 6:57 am

        I’m pleased to hear it.

  • Jonhard Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:31 pm

    The point above about legal validity seems often overlooked. There are constraints on the UCI and WADA as past challenges have shown. And the bio passport seems to introduce more subjectivity and grey areas, which doesn’t help with susceptibility to challenge.

    It’ll all be irrelevant soon, when people start having GM babies. Or less frivolously, the line between clean and enhanced performance is going to get harder to discern at some point.

    • RonDe Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:54 pm

      Drug testing is the science of finding measurable parameters for things. There will always be grey areas. Drug cheating is the science of being able to avoid the measuring or fool it. There will always be leeway for those prepared to cheat. I think that, yes, we should keep trying to find the cheats because if we don’t make a real effort then you incentivize cheating. But, just as important, found cheats need to be tossed over the cliff, legalities not withstanding. I cannot believe that anyone has a legal right to compete in a World Tour cycle race – or any other other for that matter.

      • Anonymous Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 11:24 pm

        Of course you have that right. Everybody has the right to do their work/job. If you got a contract in a WT-team and you have not broken that contract, you can’t be withheld from earning money without compensation. They are not in a lawless jungle, the riders have rights like everybody else. BTW: Therefore I would assume that suspended teams have to pay their riders, even if they don’t race?

        • Nick Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 6:12 pm

          Though the contract would be to compete in races that the team had the right to enter, so if it lost the right to enter particular events, the rider would also lose it.

      • Jonhard Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 11:29 pm

        I guess the point I was making is that “legalities notwithstanding” hasn’t worked for the UCI (or other governing bodies) in the past. What is the alternative to an open, robust and yes, fair, process?

        And cliff-tossing assumes a level of infallibility that I think may become more difficult to sustain in time.

        God knows it’s not perfect, but improving the system is not as simple as tougher penalties imo.

  • Special Eyes Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:32 pm

    Do you believe collective punishment would stand up to an appeal to ACAS or even if challenged in a formal court of law ?

    • Vitus Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 2:27 am

      I hardly can imagine how collective punishment fro innocent riders and staff would stand up in a normal independent court. And I hope it will be challenged there.

      • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 9:37 am

        Hard to know, it does look like it prevents people from doing their job. Of course riders remain salaried but they are unable to perform, get the fitness required, earn prize money etc so it looks like some restraint on their right to work, a punishment that targets them for something they didn’t do.

        • Sam Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 10:22 am

          There are precedents whereby the IOC have banned entire national federations’ and their athletes from participating in international competitions for 12-24 months.

          There was no legal recourse, no over-turning of that ban

          • Vitus Thursday, 20 August 2015, 12:12 am

            Banning a national federation is quite another cup of tea. We’re talking about companies.

    • Calciopoli Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 10:18 am

      Sports teams get banned from competition regularly enough for people really not to have to hold their heads in their hands and wail “Think of the children!” as the poor, starving waifs get deprived of their daily bread as their innocent parents are denied their inalienable right to work for fuckwitted employers.

      The idea that there is, and should be, any ‘moral’ rejection of all forms of collective punishment is just as extreme, just as daft, as the idea that all dopers should rot in hell for all eternity or, y’know, just go get yourself a real job, boy!

    • Special Eyes Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 4:40 pm

      * That should have been CAS not ACAS of course !
      In my dotage…

  • o lordi Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 10:44 pm

    Everybody and their grandmother understood who the team with the nutritionist in the CIRC report was. So why the heck didn’t Taborre and Appollonio know that CADF would watch the team with extra care, and just stay away from the juice? Hadn’t Savio spelled it out for them? Didn’t they see what happend to Max, Val & the Astanettes last year? They were targeted. Savio ain’t no fox anymore.

    UCI or no UCI, the Savio boys would have sat out August anyway, they are obliged to through their MPCC membership. Even the one who supposedly sang (to whom?) about the nutritionist.

  • Alan Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 11:00 pm

    Is it really so difficult to hold the team management responsible for ensuring their riders are clean – and to sanction them if they fail in this? This seems to me a far better way to go than blanket suspensions on teams. It might also help to get rid of the high numbers of ex-dopers involved in team management, a PR shot in the foot at the very least.

    • Dr Manhattan Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 12:07 pm


      Seems like a no-brainer to me as well. Leaders in politics, civil service, business, what have you, have to take responsibility for the actions of their underlings and resign. Why not in cycling?

      The fact that cycling management may be ex-dopers themselves, just adds insult to injury.

      • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 12:14 pm

        “Leaders in politics, civil service, business, what have you, have to take responsibility for the actions of their underlings and resign.” – actually, they very rarely do. More often, they are the problem, and are unpunished and unpunishable.

  • Skippy Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 11:02 pm

    Since the ” perp ” was riding for the same team , what is the issue here ?

    For several seasons , i have been calling for the UCI to reveal the results from the ” Le Tour ” ! It appears that 99 editions discovered , those that thought they were on bread & water , well they tthought they were fooling the ” Unwashed “!

    UCI collected a bundle of cash from the London Olympics , so now that they have tested March 2012 , it would be a GOOD IDEA to retest ALL Participants on every GrandTour , from that date forward . If by chance they find it TOO HARD , then just Le Tour , will reveal enough , to generate the willingness to look at the others ?

    With the Italians having Jail Sentences available for Sporting Fraud , it is about time the Authorities got on with the job ! When a few Racers start to report from behind bars , that they are looking at having to train as manual workers , for when they are released , then the Peloton will start to WISE UP to the fact that Retrospective Testing , even back as far as the 2000 Sydney Olympics , is going to BITE the Derriere , even if they are now in Team management ?

    Correct me if i am wrong , but is there not a Law in the UK , that prohibits making a profit from wrong doing ? Does any other country have similar Laws ? Let us suppose this Law was in place , then People that write their Memoirs , would have their pockets emptied , quick smart , when retrospection was revealed .

    Years ago i was proposing that ALL Prize Monies be paid into a Central Fund run by the UCI ! The idea was that the Racer lived on their Salary , but when they retired , they could then draw down those winnings and have them TAXED at a more equitable rate ( UK Lawyers used to have this facility ?), BUT , should the Racer be caught in Sporting Fraud Practices , THEN , they forfeit ALL that was accrued ! Guess that would be unfair ? Only the Sports Lawyers would be out of pocket , since more Racers would be focused on preserving their Legacy , than on the ONE DAY Short Cut Profits ?

    The generation will come when Sport will be REALISTIC , rather than another form of entertainment for the masses ? Having just seen the highlights of the Man U game , i can see that there is a problem in that Sport , with a need there , to avoid being regarded in the same light as the IAAF and Wrestling ?

  • HWSB Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 11:10 pm

    Thanks INRNG.

    A couple of thoughts:

    1. I thought Vaughter’s original quote on the whole team folding if they had a positive was actually in regards to the contract with the sponsors – that THEY could pull out if there was a positive, not that he would do so. But that’s been lost in the recent hype.

    2. Cycling’s doping history has led to the sport having the most advanced anti-doping rules compare to all other sports. Yes there are weird questions and moral issues but they’re on the right track. There will always be cheaters

    • Foley Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 11:42 pm

      1. If that is correct it is an important point in Slipstream’s’ favor, but even so the result was “BAU/no consequences,” so apparently there is no apparent “commitment” to clean cycling. Just “stuff” that JV “put out there” that is no longer operative. Major unforced error by JV, to not have a clear and explicit explainer ready to go in this situation. And given what we’ve seen, you worry he will make matters worse if he tries to address it now. (Definitely would NOT want the rest of the team because of the cretin that failed the test.)

      • Foley Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 11:44 pm

        Not want the team “collectively punished” I meant.

  • Patrick Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 11:23 pm

    so i think caruso was on katusha in 2012, but what would happen if he had been on a different team then? either katusha is punished for something they had nothing to do with or another team is punished now for the actions of a rider they no longer have any association with – perhaps having dropped them because they were not satisfied with their ethics.

    the issue i take with that clause c is that the suspension is lifted if 1 doping case can be shown not to have team involvement. you still have one where the team didn’t take all reasonable measures. the team should always be taking all reasonable measures so if they’ve been caught not doing so even once then punishment is appropriate. i don’t think suspending the team is the appropriate punishment though. a fine and deduction of UCI points and/or something targeted at team management would seem fairer and more effective.

  • Larry T. Tuesday, 18 August 2015, 11:53 pm

    On the brighter side, it seems that (so far) nobody is interested in Saxo’s sponsorship loot if Mr. 60% comes attached to it. To me this is a positive change in attitude!

    • Dr Manhattan Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 12:17 pm

      Good thing Mr 60 % has TV punditry to fall back on…

  • Noel Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 12:00 am

    In the case like iglinsky I would like to see a whole team have its results annulled – ie Nibali would lose his Yellow Jersey, in the same way that relay team sprinters lose their medals if one of them gets busted. Its a team sport in stage races, and I think that should be reflected ( and a certain amount of peer group pressure would be applied). No one loses their job, but no one would want a doper on their team….

  • Bilmo Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 12:05 am

    I think the 30 day rule is probably about the right balance. There has to be some collective punishment as a way to encourage the team to support riders into not doping. I may go a little harsher and say 1 failed test during race means who team is out (similar to Larry above).
    For individual riders I think it has to be 4 years min and would prefer life time.
    Part of what keeps my faith in most current young riders at the moment is most recent bans are for guys who have already been banned before! The new crop are hopefully clean and the old guard should have been gone from the sport already.

  • Chris Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 12:13 am

    On Katusha: im not sure they should be banned here. Carisa’s positive was from 2012 and I have to think that Paolini was partying, not cheating. Terrible judgment for sure, but it just doesn’t add up to an indication of current systematized doping. I mean, the team smells fishy to me in general, but those don’t feel substantive to me at all.

    Having said that, I actually am in near total agreement with the UCI on this rule. Of course some “innocents” may be affected, but I’m unmoved by that argument. These people aren’t solving world hunger here; they’re competing in sports for popular entertainment. The imposition of some strict rules is fully in keeping with the effort to foster a clean sport. You’ll have to forgive me for feeling that there are greater injustices for me to concern myself with.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 9:34 am

      Katusha’s already had warnings and already briefly lost its licence over repeated doping scandals and its licence review won’t be a breeze. But regardless of your views the rules say the team gets banned from upcoming races because two notifications = suspension. However when Taborre was suspended and took Androni with him the UCI gave a press release to state both he and the team had been suspended, yesterday’s news on Caruso made no mention of Katusha and a team suspension so perhaps the UCI are bending the rules from notification to date of the test?

      • Larry T. Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 1:39 pm

        The small fry usually get the rules applied to them, sometimes it seems as a test-case, while the big teams (and riders) with plenty of financial and legal resources often get off easier? Gianni Savio/Androni seem to have not-so-quietly taken their lumps here, but does anyone doubt Katusha would fight all the way to CAS (and probably beyond if there was a way) if the rules were applied to them resulting in suspension? The first excuse I’d use if I was their spokesman/lawyer would be that Paolini’s cocaine positive was not for a PED, merely a banned substance. This and the years-ago sample from Caruso should be enough to make any penalties rather toothless. Pro cycling needs a philosopher/king to sort all this out as the current structure is failing.

  • Tobias Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 2:07 am

    The doping problem is not pretty. It is far from being a cycling only problem.

    The IAAF is refusing to let articles getting published (see BBC Sunday).

    Smaller countries and sports leagues/players unions telling athletes ahead of time when tests will happen.

    Punishing teammates creates false incentives.

    At some point there needs some standards that apply across sports and countries.

    Real jail time is perhaps a start but how do you make it the same?

    At the end of the day should we expect anything to be fair when the top bankers at the Goldmans of the world never land in jail themselves after xxx billions of fines. Sometimes a level 3 employee is hung out to dry.

  • Joe K. Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 2:48 am

    Yesterday saw the president of WADA appear on the BBC News talking about battling drug cheats in various sports, such as track & field, in the World Championships level, but he was addressing possible use of national bans as penalty for continuous drug use violations by athletes from a particular nation over a period of time, most notably, Russia. He warned, however, that such national bans are like a taking a sledgehammer to peel a banana–not subtle and imprecise. He had no ready answers to resolve the problem, but he did mention that WADA lacks the proper funding to take on this global task–only $30Mil in the kitty.

    • Larry T. Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 3:40 am

      The corporate sponsors who demanded something be done to clean up Olympic sports should be funding WADA as it was pretty much created by their threats to the IOC. A tiny percentage of McDo’s,
      Coca-Cola’s, etc. worldwide income would go a long way.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 11:38 am

      I must say that I am not quite sure what status these athletes have? I would think they are amateurs competing for their country (as strange as that may sound)? If that is the case, you can’t compare it to someone who is hired per contract by a team. The legal situation would be totally different. Maybe someone knows what status athletes in athletics have, who are are competing for countries: Professionals or amateurs?

      • Sam Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 12:23 pm

        Not very many amateurs at the elite level in sports anymore. At Commie Games etc, yeah, you’ll see a mix of pros plus other competitors who work full-time or part-time, train outside their work hours, using annual leave to take part in track meets during the week etc.

        But at the Europeans, Worlds, Diamond Leagues etc – the real elite events – they’re funded through a mix of personal corporate sponsorship (ranging from the multi-million $ deals, to the $10-20k p.a. deals), plus funding from their national feds that can cover salaries, plus coaching expenses, travel costs, equipment, training facilities etc.

        They will have contracts in place not just with personal sponsors, but also their particular national athletics federations.

  • Rod Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 8:54 am

    Irrespective of personal stands of “innocents paying for sinners”, there is precedent for this.

    The US lost the London 4×100 silver medal because Gay was caught. Was Kimmons doping? Negative (at this point at least). Still no medal.

    Equestrian events also disqualify the whole team for a single doping violation. France has lost its Rio berth.

    And beyond doping, there are also precedents for team DQs for cheating. Mexico lost two years in football for dressing over-age athletes in a youth tournament – not only the junior team got suspended, all of the national teams were DQ’d from international competition! No World Cup (1990), no Olympics (1988). And so on. I can assure you that they never have thought of cheating like that again (I’m Mexican and familiar with this case).

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 8:56 am

      Team DQs exist in cycling too with team time trials etc, one positive test and the whole team loses the result.

      • Bilmo Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 10:11 am

        Would this lead to a team being kicked off the tour? If Paolini’s positive had been post TTT would all of Katusha been off the tour?

  • wassup90 Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 10:42 am

    Even tough Caruso did break the rules in 2012 this adds to the whole image of Katusha beeing a bit suspicious as a whole (at least not enough prevention and structures against doping like good team coaching and intern controls).

    What does that mean for Kristoff who seems to be outspoken against doping: http://cyclingtips.com.au/2015/04/who-is-alexander-kristoff-the-most-successful-rider-of-2015-defined/

    Would he have an agreement in his contract which allows him to switch teams if for example Hushovd gets his team (*cough* statoil *cough*) going? Seems like a rider which hates doping is not right at Katusha…

  • J Evans Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 10:54 am

    Surely, ‘if a team member was enabling the rider in their doping’ then at the very least the team member is also banned? (Seems self-evident, but you never know with cycling.)
    And – unless they can prove that this team member worked alone – I would go as far as to disband the team and ban the team boss (as well as the worker concerned) for this. It’s possible that it could be one rogue team worker, but how likely is it?
    All bans should be life bans, in my view.
    Life bans for individuals; team boss bans and team disbanded if team collusion is shown. Harsh – some would be unjustly banned, possibly – and not a final answer, but would significantly reduce doping. Many riders wouldn’t risk a life ban. And many team bosses wouldn’t risk a life ban.
    I stress that this is only in cases of team collusion – I don’t believe in punishing a team if only the individual is caught.
    Team bosses get away scott-free at present – that’s a big reason why the culture doesn’t change.
    The question is ‘if a team member was enabling the rider in their doping’ why do we not hear about this – why do they and the team go unpunished?

    • J Evans Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 11:55 am

      Same is true in all walks of life: people who run companies are not held responsible for what the company does – hence, companies behave abysmally.

  • MancunianCandidate Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 1:39 pm
    • kazan Thursday, 20 August 2015, 2:48 am

      That seems a bit fast and loose on the legal analysis. Sure, use the 2012 rules for the actual doping violation. But I don’t see what bearing that should have on the team suspension. The team was notified of two doping violations in a 12 month span, and per the rule has to be suspended.

      Why would we apply 2012 team rules for a *doping* violation in 2012? These are two entirely separate things.

  • Joe K. Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 2:45 pm

    Just saw rebroadcast of yesterday’s stage of US Pro Challenge and am bewildered by seeing Rohan Dennis riding as domestique for Bookwalter!? Come on,…Dennis completed the TdF, even wearing the maillot jeune, and that putzy BMC team management decides to have him ride as a sacrificial rider for Bookwalter (just 1 professional win who knows when) and Taylor Phinney (who hasn’t raced in over 14 months). What a joke; Jim Och is delusional. His dream of U.S. cycling glory is seriously impairing his objectivity. Richie Porte had better beware!

    • adam Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 3:24 pm

      Or maybe Dennis just genuinely meant it when he said before the race that since Bookwalter podiumed in Utah, he’d ride for him here and just see how he does along the way. And you can’t argue with two wins in two days, while Dennis has his sights on Richmond and likely is enjoying the hard efforts on the front.

  • Ryan Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 3:16 pm

    What about implementing a similar system that US Major Leage Baseball uses? There seem to be positives, punishments and sentences served without all the fuss.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 4:24 pm

      Yes, baseball has no drugs problem at all and in no way sweeps it all nicely under the carpet.

      • Ryan Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 4:44 pm

        I’m not sure raising a flag for every rider caught is the right way either. Baseball does have issues, which is why I suggested it as a model. In baseball, the sport does go on when someone is caught cheating. Maybe the size of the sport and number of games has something to do with that as well.

        Here is the link to MLB’s policy: http://mlbplayers.mlb.com/pa/pdf/jda.pdf

    • Rod Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 4:43 pm

      Surely you jest – that’s an even bigger circus, maybe because the money pot is bigger. Lawsuits, appeals, discussion on whether Fedex-ing a urine sample implies loss of custody and invalidates a positive test, etc.

      See Rodriguez, Alex; Braun, Ryan; Cabrera, Melky. ( I love baseball but antidoping in MLB is an even bigger joke).

  • Richard S Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 3:35 pm

    I fail to see the similarity between Caruso/Appolonnio/Anyone doping and Poalini being caught taking cocaine. One is cheating that drags your team and your sport through the mud, the other is stupidity – albeit illegal stupidity. Anyone caught cheating with something as blatant as EPO, or anything else that can’t be passed off as a medical product accidentally used over its lime, should be banned for a long time if not life. Taking coke deserves a slap on the wrist, a dressing down from your team manager and a fine, plus maybe a caution from the Police.

    From my point of view, and this might seem slightly controversial, it seems fairly clear that the majority of doping cases in the last couple of years have involved Italian riders. Maybe the Italian authorities need to be involved. Would a sanction on the country, such as banning Italy from the World Championships for one year, help them clean it up?

    • Sam Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 3:52 pm

      Coke’s a banned substance as per the WADA Code. Won’t incur a 4 year for Paolini, but given his age he’ll get long enough for his career to be done.

      This isn’t football.

      • Richard S Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 5:31 pm

        Whether it’s banned or not its not cheating as its not performance enhancing. Its stupid and irresponsible and deserving of some sort of sanction, but it is definitely not the same thing as doping.

        • Sam Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 5:47 pm

          And it tends to get a less severe sanction. But its listed as banned, and so…it doesnt go unpunished.

          You don’t believe its performance-enhancing. However, it increases alertness, for starters. Pretty handy in certain performance situations…

          Anyway, its a bit of a moot debate. Its on the WADA list, and so…

          • Nick Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 6:19 pm

            Isn’t it also a masking agent for any PEDs?

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 4:25 pm

      Yes, a lot of Italians – but no-one seems to mention it.

      And banning someone for cocaine is just stupid, even if it is on the list.

  • Roel Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 4:12 pm

    You know who got caught for using EPO as well at that time, out of competition?
    A rider from Katusha, “who handled on his own”, he said.

    –> Poor Denis Galimzyanov, taking one for the team at that time. (Katusha was not sure yet whether it would obtain a ProTour license)

    • Sam Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 4:51 pm

      So he did. Positive test was from an OOC sample taken on 22 Mar 2012.

      Caruso’s OOC sample was taken 5 days later on 27 Mar.


      • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 11:22 pm

        Dirty teams carry on being dirty because they and their owners/managers are never punished.

  • AK Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 6:34 pm

    This boils down eventually to whether cycling is a team sport or an individual sport. I think most would agree it is both. Team members benefit from the efforts of others. So when someone on a team is doping, the team mates profit, whether it is the leader who is kept out of the wind for longer, or the whole team because they attract more sponsors with better results. It is not strange that the punishment then also goes partially to the team. This is not uncommon in other team sports either. Football teams can even be punished for the behavior of their fans.
    How effective it is in anti-doping is a good question. The peer pressure can go both ways, pressure not to dope and pressure to conceal.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 7:27 pm

      The problem with the whole subject doping is, that so many different things, which have nothing to do with each other, become all tossed together: things we assume, things we read into a rule, our emotions etc.. But it is really important to make an effort to stay as clear as possible in all this, because it will only help the cause. The question who profits has nothing to do with the rulebreaking or the sentence. For the sentence, the question who profits, has no value. What happens is initially simple: There are rules, they get broken. So the person or the people who are responsible get sentenced for that. End of the story. That a whole team is suspended has nothing to do with profiting from doping, the reason for a team sentence is the assumption that a team played a role in the doping and/or the anti-doping measures inside the team are insufficient. That is the reason, why Androni couldn’t apply to get the suspension lifted under point c of the rule. They had a teammember who was part of the doping scheme and everybody knew it. In most other cases I would think, teams will apply for the lifting of the suspension and probably many will succeed.

  • Bern Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 7:02 pm

    Ryan & Rod above touched on US sports (perhaps with histories as US sports fans?) from different perspectives to make the same point: US major sports occasionally toss individuals over the side for various reasons but the teams themselves move on untouched by the alleged stain, because there’s way too much money involved to allow otherwise.

    Professional bicycle racing should not be compared to ‘major league’ sports on that score, as it will never measure up monetarily (by orders of magnitude). So in some ways pro cycling governing bodies have the luxury of holding a real hammer over the heads of teams in a way that some other sporting commissioners do not. What the hell – some team gets banned from a major race? And the organizers and sponsors are out hundreds of thousands of dollars? Tough luck…

    But…requiring individuals to narc their colleagues as preemptive defense against potential loss of job is just dumb. Do we want to turn athletes into Stasi-like junior agents, doing the work for the Man? Over some drugs?! I will lose my enthusiasm for the sport if that’s what we are supposed to expect from the athletes…

    We fans of this marvelous enterprise (inrng the website and its proprietor) care so much about the sport – our collective angst about professional doping (and its fallout) is way out of proportion to the rest of the issues in the big wide world (I know, should go without saying)…

    Sanction the doper if you want, but let the rest ride.

  • OJT Wednesday, 19 August 2015, 10:10 pm

    I agree with collective punishments in cycling – comments about Peer Pressure are spot on.

    With regard to Katusha’s position, Paolini’s S.6a positive for cocaine was at the start of the TDF, six weeks ago, so they’ve got 10.5 months to all stay clean. The whole team. One suspects they will struggle to last that long…

  • Dr Headgear Thursday, 20 August 2015, 12:31 pm

    I’ve argued before that an audit system is the way forward. Rather than talk about collective punishment, how about collective reward for teams with the right processes and structures in place?
    If it was set up as an externally audited rating system then you could have different gradings according to how far a team was willing to go towards best practice, e.g Rating D: mandatory for Pro-Conti level, Rating C: Optional for Pro-Conti, mandatory for WT, Rating B: optional for any level.

    Gaining a rating above mandatory should be rewarded by the in-house currency: UCI Points

    A side effect of an audit system would be that it made the UCI Licensing commission’s work a lot more transparent.

    It would be relatively simple to modularise to cover different aspects of running a team – e.g. a young rider development module. It could also provide a framework for e.g. buying in to extra independent bio-passport testing.

    It would even be possible to use this grading to fine teams UCI points for positive tests (higher fines for lower grades) and to implement a threshold below which a team was suspended until it could verifiably demonstrate it had improved processes.

    To prevent cover-ups you could add “whistle-blowing” as something that earnt points, or ameliorated loss of points.

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