Which Races Will Katusha Miss?

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Last Friday the UCI announced that Katusha’s Eduard Vorganov had been notified of A-sample finding of a banned substance called Meldonium. Katusha now face a suspension from racing of 15-45 days which will undermine their spring classics campaign and their membership of the self-regulatory group the MPCC means they could sit out a second period too.

Meldonium? It’s a pharmaceutical made in Latvia and used in Eastern Europe to treat severe cardiac conditions and according to the web it can increase “exercise tolerance”. It had been monitored by WADA in 2015 and and there was “unequivocal analytical data allowing the estimation of the prevalence and extent of misuse in professional sports” which meant WADA banned it for 2016. Russians were warned last September.

The Rule
The UCI copycatted the MPCC’s self-suspension rule for 2015 where multiple doping cases lead to the whole squad being stopped from racing. You might remember that the Androni team were the first to be suspended under this rule. They tried and appeal but lost which might bolster the jurisprudence here. We’ll come back to Androni’s case in a minute but here’s the text of the rule.

It’s pretty clear. If two riders are notified of an adverse analytical finding then that’s enough to get the team suspended from racing: the only question is the length of the ban. It’s on notification of the adverse finding and not on conviction following a hearing or a B-sample. That said a report in Velonews says “Team and UCI officials are awaiting the results of the rider’s “B” sample” which is curious as Androni were suspended long before their riders had a B-sample returned.

After Luca Paolini’s Tour de France cocaine bust this means two potential anti-doping cases for Katusha within 12 months. Katusha are actually on their third notification in 12 months as Giampaolo Caruso was informed of his EPO A-sample positive last year but this was a retro test on a sample taken before the rule applied and the new rule cannot be applied retroactively.

Note it’s just a temporary halt to racing, everyone’s wages should be paid. Once the suspension has started Katusha can file a request to have it lifted based on the three paragraphs listed in the rule above:

  • a) won’t work given Luca Paolini’s admitted to his problems and it’s reasonable to expect Vorganov’s B-sample confirms the A-sample
  • b) doesn’t look very helpful either as Vorganov will struggle on no fault or negligence if he’s tested positive for a pharmaceutical molecule that’s on WADA’s Banned List and normally given to people with chronic heart failure
  • c) is the more open ended question. Did Katusha do all they were supposed to do? The team haven’t been part of the ISSUL audit pilot scheme so it’ll be harder for them to explain things

A little history
You’ll remember the UCI’s Licence Commission tried to strip Katusha of its World Tour licence in late 2012. In short the Licence Commission was fed up with repeated doping scandals and tried to put its foot down. Katusha appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sports, pleaded it would make internal reforms and as part of its commitment to cleaner ethics, join the MPCC group of teams. It duly won back its licence for 2013.

The other back story to this is that Katusha is the team of UCI Management Committee member Igor Makarov. Makarov will surely have no say over the process but it does highlight the delicate ethical concerns where one part of the UCI is tasked with sanctioning a senior member’s interests.

Androni case study
The Androni team was suspended last August following notifications of Davide Apollonio’s EPO sample and Fabio Taborre’s sample for FG-4592, sometimes labelled “EPO in a pill”. The Androni team were hit with a 30 day suspension. They tried an appeal but it was not lifted. Team manager Gianni Savio, speaking to cyclingtips, said he and colleagues did try to put in place structures in the team but he had to “prove the unprovable” to get the suspension lifted. The team’s secondary status, the focus on races like the Vuelta meant that nobody seemed to pay too much attention. Katusha looks different and they’re wealthier too, they can hire the best of lawyers.

Katusha case guess
Remember the rule says two “notifications” means a team “shall be suspended”. It’s phrased unconditionally which suggests a ban has to follow like night follows day, that the Disciplinary Commission will meet this week and announce a ban in the coming days. If so the only procedural question is over the length of the ban. If two quasi-EPO cases got Androni a 30 day suspension then cocaine and a questionable pharmaceutical are arguably less serious and could bring a 15 day ban. But this involves trying to weigh up infractions when the WADA Code itself does not make so many distinctions.

Practical questions
But there are other questions over logistics and PR. The UCI’s decision is “immediately enforceable” but when they stopped Androni for 30 days the decision was news on 29 July and the suspension began in August. This means Katusha could be able to ride out any race they’re doing now which means a less disruptive exit rather than losing face in front of a wealthy emir or being “perp walked” out of the race. What can’t be allowed is a sense that the timing suits Katusha too much either otherwise, we remember how bad things looked for Astana when it looked like they timed one of the Iglinskiy confessions in order to ensure they could ride their preferred races.

MPCC Self-Suspension
Katusha joined the MPCC in order to improve their image in 2013. The self-regulatory body has the original team suspension rules. They’re different in that the B-sample has to be positive and the suspension lasts eight days. If all this sounds easier there’s a big headache for Katusha as the suspension begins on the first day of the next World Tour race. From now onwards there is no race that Katusha want to miss. If Vorganov’s B-sample comes back positive between now and Paris-Nice then the eight day ban will commence on the first day of Paris-Nice which also means they’d sit out Tirreno-Adriatico too. From then onwards the races come thick and fast and an eight day suspension can mean sitting out two Sunday Monument classics in a row. It suggests a sporting version of Saint Augustine’s prayer: “give me virtue, but just not yet.”


No good races to miss
Any suspension can’t be seen in isolation. You might say “it’s only the Tour of Qatar” but these are vital early season preparation races. Alexander Kristoff’s fabulous spring classics campaign, culminating in the Tour of Flanders, was in part thanks to the racing preparation he enjoyed in the weeks and months before as he racked up wins in Qatar, Oman, Paris-Nice and a podium in Kuurne before Sanremo and Flanders. Similarly if, say, Rein Taaramäe wants a good Paris-Nice then having the Volta ao Algarve in his legs can help too. Of course riders can try to compensate with training camps or motor pacing sessions at home but it’s not the same as trying sprint leadouts in a race, not to mention the forfeited prize money and other opportunity costs.

The issue seems unfair because collective punishment is surely only suitable for collective offences. Since there’s no evidence of a team conspiracy for the moment it seems harsh to suspend everyone, it breaks with the presumption of innocence and feels disproportionate. Indeed Eduard Vorganov isn’t guilty of doping: all we’ve got is an A-sample. But rules introduced by the UCI in 2015 mean news of the A-sample is sufficient to suspend a whole team for a minimum of 15 days. As well as the UCI’s new rules there is the MPCC self-suspension too. One suspension is bad enough but two, especially with the timing requirements of the MPCC, could be ruinous.

The combination of unequivocal UCI rules compounded by the MPCC membership means Katusha’s suspension from racing is more a question of when than if. The only questions are derivative, such as when the ban starts, how long it lasts, will Katusha lawyer up and will they quit the MPCC?

105 thoughts on “Which Races Will Katusha Miss?”

  1. “Since there’s no evidence of a team conspiracy for the moment it seems harsh to suspend everyone, it breaks with the presumption of innocence and feels disproportionate.”

    Given the problem cycling has with doping. Surely a team ban would, foster a team wide responsibility to police the problem and aid the authorities.

  2. On one hand I’m all for team collective punishment. On the other I am aware that Vorganov’s substance has only recently been put on the list by WADA (with the only strange reason that it helps performance, not because it is deemed particularly harmful), it has a series of beneficial effects, and the guy has obviously been using it for years, and it’s unlikely he was made aware of it becoming banned as of 2016 (but this is his responsibility).

    • The attitude that previously the drug was legal and so it was fine then is a hugely problematic attitude that prevails in cycling. (I’m not saying you think this, but many cyclists evidently do.)
      A drug should be banned if it helps performance, even it is not deemed particularly harmful – it’s still cheating.
      Also, the effects of this drug in 20 years’ time are still unknown. Healthy people should not be putting unnecessary drugs into their system. Doctors who allow them to do this break their Hippocratic oath.

      • Agreed with the theory, but reality is another thing. A lot of drugs are in use in the peloton, without being forbidden, and they *do* help performance, feel assured. Caffeine has come back long ago, didn’t you know?
        The team with the best R&D do indeed specialise in looking for new pharma products who haven’t been forbidden (or collaborating in scientific research to actually *discover* new products) then feeding the riders on them.
        Besides, it’s unclear where’s the limit between a “drug” and generic “chemical substances”, perhaps natural, perhaps present in normal food, which you concentrate to anormal levels or which intake you raise well over the nutritional needs of the body.
        I can’t understand how people don’t get that this whole system might become a little, confusing, to say the least, for the morality of the riders.
        We all know “the Law” (which is different from what you present above, by the way), which says: “if it’s on the list, it’s on the list, cheating is taking what’s on the list when it’s on the list”, but as your comment shows, other considerations get into th question and the moral level becomes more complicated.
        Detaching the “sense of cheating” from any kind of meaningful content and making of it just a question of “in the list/off the list” will inevitably weaken its ethical dimension.

      • There is only a very thin line between a ‘supplement’ and a ‘drug’. That thin line is also arbitrary: is it included in the prohibited list in the WADA code or not. We have already seen substances disappearing from the WADA list (and athletes started to use these immediately and are quite open about it).

        “Healthy people should not be putting unnecessary drugs into their system”
        We, ordinary people, are using supplements, vitamins and even vaccines in order to keep us healthy. Also we are using coffee, tea, whatever, to keep us focused while working.
        Some people are objecting the use of vaccines for example.
        Who’s to say what is “unnecessary”?

        So why shouldn’t athletes use every legally accepted method to gain a competitive edge or keep them in top shape?

        (That’s a whole different subject that I would never use any prescriprion drug that wasn’t prescribed to me, but I never wanted to be an athlete in the first place).

        (please excuse my English, it is only my second language)

      • Gabriele and Maximflyer: that’s why I would change the system of medical coverage in cycling – if it’s possible.
        Doctors should be separate from teams – they should be completely unconcerned about riders’ performance.
        Could UCI-appointed doctors (who changed teams every few months) be the way forward?
        As it is, people’s health is being compromised.
        A – neutral – doctor is the best person to decide what is an appropriate treatment.

      • Oh, but I am dead serious. Unlike Gabriele, I don’t even agree with the theory. If something does not have proven deletereous health effects, there is no reason to ban it. Doping is wrong only because doping is harmful health-wise. There cannot be “harmless doping”, even if it dramatically affects performance. Effect on performace is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for something to be deemed “doping”. The other necessary condition is a “proven deletereous health effect”.
        In my view, with regard to the famous Meldonium, WADA has failed to explain why it is considered doping instead of a lawful complement. Anyway, the rules of a game are always arbitrary, so the UCI always could ban any substance just beacause… But the rules shouldn’t be changing all the time, just because. WADA should strive to keep its list short and sweet: only substances and treatments that clearly have adverse health effects, and only those that are detectable.

        • The same *precaution* principle our society uses – or should be using – in medicine would have to be applied in cycling, too: that’s why I can’t agree with the *proven*-deletereous-health-effects concept. Besides, in medicine that principle is sometimes softened since you’re often under the urgency of something as basic as saving a life, while taking health *risks* (because the effects can show up years later) in order to win a race doesn’t sound that fine to me. That said, I agree about what you say on the nature of the rules, especially since other substances with “proven deletereous health effect”, widely used in the peloton, don’t go on the list. Maybe it’s about being made in Germany – a bit like the VW scandal and the subsequent decisions of the Europarliament… if you can’t live by the rules, just push the line enough to fit you and everything will be fair and fine.

        • Disagree on so many levels, but crucially you’d have to prove that the drug does not have a deleterious health effect, which you will never be able to do – a) because you’ve no idea what the drug will do in 20 years and b) because all substances have some bad effect. That is why one should not be filling one’s body with unnecessary substances – purely from a health point of view.

    • The WADA banned list is updated and published in the public domain. Plus, WADA publishes drugs it is monitoring. If you’re using something for training, it’s up to you to check it’s status with WADA.

      If you’re not sure about something you’re using, ask your doctors, consult with WADA, etc.

      How is this so difficult to understand? The rider in question is completely at fault here.

  3. Punishing the teams is the best way to fight this: for years, only the riders were punished and, at the very least, there is strong suspicion that the teams are involved in doping their riders (unless you believe that Katusha and Astana – and their affiliated teams – are just unlucky).
    Only if teams are also punished will they work hard to stop it.
    I’d like to see huge UCI fines (good for their funding too) being levied against teams whose riders are caught. The teams are responsible for their riders: fine them 1 million euros every time a rider is busted and they’d start taking that responsibility very seriously, very quickly.
    Harsh on some teams who have ‘rogue’ riders? Possibly, but they could test their own riders a lot more frequently – and the UCI could have a rule where the team are not punished at all if they catch their own rider.
    And teams can introduce Androni-style fines.
    None of this is *the* solution – nor are these ideas without flaws; but the UCI should be coming up with ways of preventing doping, not just catching the dopers.

    As for the innocent Katusha riders who now face a ban from racing, they knew the doping history of the team they were joining.
    Also, as cycling is a team sport, those innocent riders were helped in their performances by the doped rider(s).

  4. @ Pierre-Jean

    “Russians were warned last September”, so he was aware of it being banned.

    Yes it’s sad to see whole teams, and therefore some presumably innocent riders, punished, but it’s vital that doping is made toxic enough to deter clean riders and sponsors from touching teams with less than perfect records with a bargepole.

    • “Russians” (as in “love their children too”), is, I think, too vague a category. One thing is that the Russian ADA publishes something on its website, and another thing that every rider is specifically cognizant of the change. But, as I said, the rule is that the rider is suppose to know the WADA list, in order to comply with it, so it’s Vorganov’s fault if he didn’t know. My guess is that if he had known he would probably have stopped taking it, at least for a while, but that’s just my guess.

  5. As usual, the “little fish” like Androni get suspended while the big players like Katusha will probably get off via the c) clause. The explanation will be the now classic – “lone wolf” doped himself unbeknownst to the team, so the team can’t be held responsible. The very existence of this clause points out the futility of the whole effort.
    UCI tried to send a message to these folks by kicking them out of the big league in 2012 (as you pointed out) and just like that guy who used the underinflated footballs, they fought back in the courts and prevailed.
    Meanwhile MPCC remains a joke, a tribe everyone wants to join until the rules force them to actually walk the walk rather than just talk the talk. And Velon will explain yet again that all that is needed is for more business-centric thinking to prevail and all the sponsors will clamor to return.

    • In interviews in Norwegian press tonight, there is little to suggest that Katusha is trying to evade punishment. Rather they are saying they would like to start paying it off as soon as possible and get over with it. That is quite a bit on the way to accepting it. In between the lines I think this means “as soon as the Tour of Quatar is over” now that they have started it.

    • Cycling still has the best anti-doping of any sport in the world. The fact that we’re even talking about a potential team suspension means this is serious.

      A guy who likely used HGH just won the Super Bowl and the biggest headline about him is his saying he’s “going to drink a lot of Budweiser tonight”. Now that’s a joke!

  6. ‘Katusha joined the MPCC in order to improve their image in 2013.’ – and only for that reason (like so many other MPCC members).
    No-one involved with a team (or even a race organiser) should be working for the UCI. The Makarov situation is ludicrously typical.

    • Quite contrary to your opinon, the UCI (or any union of sports associations) should be made up of people that are active in the sport, in the sense of being involved in activities in one role or another. There is no use for a bureaucratic class separate from activity in the sport. The Olympics are organised by a bunch of businessmen and/or relatives of dictators, enough said.
      In my opinon, the rich team owners are welcome because they are team owners that care for the sport, not necessarily because they are rich. Now that Russia + doping is becoming a theme song for the debates about participation in the olympics, stop for a while and remember that just a few years back that would be cycling + doping. It is not Russia that is a problem for cycling, it is Russia and cycling that has a common problem.

      • I’m neither singling out Russia nor suggesting that the UCI be headed up by ‘a bunch of businessmen and/or relatives of dictators’.
        All I’m saying is that people who run teams are not unbiased and therefore should not also be running the governing authority. (It’s hard to see how this could not be a conflict of interest.)

        • It might not be completely fair way of debating, but I would like to extrapolate your suggested way of organizing the sport to the way we run countries: Citizens are not unbiased, yet countries have to be run by citizens. There are other ways to avoid conflicts of interest in governance other than keeping those that have interest out of government. A typical example would be for a team owner not to be directly involved in decisions involving their team specifically. (They can be involved in decisions involving all teams, or decisions involving other teams specifically.)

          There’s probably a name for these kind of systems but my English isn’t that good in this aspects. However, my point is that active owners (+ any other roles involved with teams) in the sport’s governance system is predominantly good for the sport, although it has some negative consequences. Those negative consequences should be dealt with not by creating a bureaucracy of people not in active roles in the sport, but using other means such as rules on who gets to be involved in what type of decisions.

          • I think there are plenty of people who know enough about cycling to not use people who have a conflict of interest. (You have to use citizens to run a country – you don’t have to use team owners to run a sport.)

          • Regardless, J Evans is right, Igor Makarov should not be on the board of the UCI – he’s one of the main individuals behind Russia’s recent doping scandals. He was explicitly involved in that organised doping scheme, which pretty much makes what Lance did look like he was running a lemonade stand. Makarov/Russia’s doping ring was epic. Makarov is biased, he’s got to go.

  7. Wouldn’t Katusha seek exemption under c using Paolini, rather than Vorganov? How much due diligence would the team have to be able show to prevent his positive?

      • Without knowing the details of Paolini’s confession, I would have thought in the case of Paolini the Team could perhaps demonstrate and argue that there was no involvement of any team member or staff and that (short of keeping the rider prisoner) the team applied all due diligence and took all measures that could be reasonably expected in order to avoid that particular anti-doping rule violation. So maybe they might have only one bust that applies during the last 12 months.

        Indeed isn’t there also some suggestion that Mildronate is a recreational drug for the young in Latvia?

        Maybe Katusha could just about wriggle out of this UCI team ban. But the self-ban is clear and they may have to drop MPCC membership; in which case does this void an ongoing condition for their World Tour Licence, or did that particular condition only hold historically, going away after 2013, I wonder?

        • As the rule says the ban happens with two notifications, once it begins Katusha could plead to have it lifted with arguments like yours but given an appeal takes time to organise, gather people and paperwork they’re still likely to miss races, no? (unless the rule is interpreted differently to how it’s written)

          • From what Kristoff has said in interviews, the team could absolutely be accused of failing to support Paolini when it knew he was having major and long-term difficulties with sleep and waking. They had a guy with chronic sleep problems, of which his team-mates (and one assumes managers) were well aware. Wasn’t it foreseeable that he might end up using some form of drug to get himself through?

            I don’t know the inside detail of his problems, but from what I’ve read, of the two cases, I doubt they’re going to say that Paolini’s was entirely beyond their control.

          • If the B sample is processed quickly (and in waiting for that result the UCI is interpreting its rule on notification rather subjectively) I reckon a 15 day ban and Katusha can pencil out February with Algarve; Oomloop; Kuurne-B-Kuurne going by the wayside. I reckon Kristoff may even get his race-training bloc at Qatar as planned and will be safe for the Spring Classics; Tirreno-Adriatico should still be on for Rodriguez if he needs that. If you are going to suffer a racing ban then February is arguably the best time to have it.

          • In the Norwegian press, Kristoff’s coach is quoted saying “…..The consequences are obvious, Katusha will be banned from racing in races that would be important as part of Alexander’s preparation.” (*)

            There may be internal disagreements in Katusha on how to handle the case, and many are suspecting that there are reasons for delay of announcement of the punishment, but at this point in time, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that it takes a few days to get all involved to meet and make the decision. Some important people might have been skiing in Serre Chevalier this weekend for all we know.

            (* = my own translation, and there was more information)

          • Of course the coach is right in the generality of what he says but he also has to prepare the ground for whatever sanction is to come Katusha’s way: to get his special pleading in first if he can. Even if it turns out that the UCI imposes a relatively light 15 day ban, the coach might still say that is tough going, even though it may not be quite so disruptive in reality. I am sure a good coach can come up with contingency plans. If his rider had the flu it might take almost 15 days out of his riding entirely whereas with a racing ban the coach can at least devise some alternative training programmes.

  8. Not sure I fully agree that in the context of cycling, a collective punishment should only be issued for a collective offence. Cycling is a collective sport in which everyone in a team can benefit (for example, through bonuses or shared prize money) from the performance of an individual who happens to be the specific rider winning races. That can occur both via clean domestiques helping a doped leader to be in a winning position in races, and via a clean leader benefitting from the efforts of doped domestiques.

    A system of collective responsibility may seem harsh, but feels to me that it is more likely to assist with whistleblowing from clean riders on a team who may see their own livelihood threatened by a teammate who dopes. Whereas restricting punishment only to those who are directly caught might give a perverse incentive to a clean rider to keep quiet about a team mate they know to be doping but who is “getting away with it” while winning races and thereby financially benefitting the whole team.

    • It’s fine to put the onus on riders to inform on their team mates but does it happen? More likely you can be, say, a neopro on a team like Jhonathan Restrepo with no idea what pills someone else is taking in their hotel room, you cannot even speak or read Russian yet you’re now facing suspension. Team staff like medics have a bigger duty but get no sanction.

      • I don’t see a problem with the collective punishment. They ride as a team. They win as a team. They get sponsored as a team. So why wouldn’t the team get punished? In football, teams can even get punished for the behavior of their supporters. Companies get fines all the time, even when only a few people in the company actually were responsible for breaking the law.
        Maybe a decent metaphor: If a bar serves alcohol to minors three times in a row, it loses it’s licence (at least in California when I lived there). It’s not like the employees who can prove that they were not working on any of the days it happened, are allowed to keep the bar open. It’s not like the guy who flips burgers in the kitchen could have done anything about it. It’s the responsibility of the business, not of the individual employees. I don’t know how these things are in other countries, but for sure in NL, there are many kinds of legal entities (a company, an association, a foundation, etc.) that can be judged and punished completely indepently from the people that make up that entity. I think many other systems of law have something similar. So why wouldn’t the UCI ‘system of law’ have this too?
        I don’t see how this collective punishment puts the onus only on the riders. It looks very bad on a team, sponsors will not be pleased and the team folding becomes a realistic possibility in some cases. Management, medical and other staff members will have an incentive to report lone wolves as well, if they want their employer to survive. Of course in the case of Katusha the ‘sponsor’ running away is not very likely but for other teams it is.
        Surely, not being allowed to race affects the riders more than the other staff members, who will not notice much of a difference. But it’s not like the UCI has that many instruments to punish with. A monetary fine would be possible, yes, but that has it’s own problems.

    • Harsh? Certainly. But punishing the “lone-wolf” while letting a) him keep the results (that quite likely were helped by doping) that he got before his positive test and b) the entire team benefit from his efforts during that same period hasn’t worked out so well so far. Cheaters continue to cheat while teams ALWAYS claim there is no systematic doping regime or tolerance for the use of banned substances. Meanwhile we hear about team bosses implying or simply telling their riders, “We don’t care what doping products you use, but don’t get caught. And if you do get caught, don’t expect the team to do anything to defend you. You’ll be thrown-under-the-bus as someone who violated all of our principles so the team remains unscathed,”
      It’s past the time for collective punishment to be handed out. Innocent riders will certainly be affected, but these same innocent riders benefit from the work of their doped teammates, so why shouldn’t they be punished when the cheaters are caught? Until the cheating of ONE rider can take down the entire team, why should we expect the non-cheaters to care what their comrades might be doing?
      What happens to the medals in Olympic team relays when ONE cheater is caught? I think ALL of them forfeit their medals – why should pro cycling be any different?

      • +1.
        I’m reading a lot 0f the same excuses I’ve been hearing for over two decades on this page.
        Nothing changes – because a lot of people are very resistant to any actions that might produce those changes.

      • Exactly. You hear the same excuses, reasons against punishing the team, etc. They never change. It’s time to tighten the screws against doping. Make it so painful for a star or a team to lose a rider (even if it’s just a domestique) that they set up a system to stop dopers.

        If you hit the successful guys in their pocketbooks, they’ll make the changes.

      • One more thing – assuming that Kristoff gets paid high 6-figures in salary, and he’s up for a new contract next year, his results this year directly affect his salary next year. Therefore, he can lose big time because this clown took a substance that is now banned.

        The stars and teams need to control what their teammates do, it’s as simple as that.

  9. I think the idea of collective punishment has been far to long coming – it then puts pressure on everyone in the team, orders, physics, management, etc to keep an eye on everyone as it suddenly effects them rather than letting someone else get caught and get a ban.

    I personally would also ban that team for the same event that they got caught at for the following event (get caught at the Tour ? then no-one (riders or staff) from the team can go back the next year even if they have changed teams) this may concentrate some minds

    Cycling is still seen in the public eye as a doping sport – no-one I spoke to has been surprised by the motor doping in the CX as cyclists will try anything

  10. The most curious part of all this situation is that, whatever you may think of Katusha as such, the two cases which would lead to the suspension don’t actually hint at any sort of team doping. And both of them would have been extremely hard to prevent for the team.
    I’m NOT saying that I believe that:
    – the team had nothing to do with the Meldonium;
    – there’s no team doping in Katusha.

    Though, both are huge *maybes* which this ciuple of positives doesn’t shed any specific light on. I don’t think that it’s particularly more probable that the team prescribed the medicine rather than the rider going on taking a product he liked (we can even assume that the team was giving him the product when it was legal, but that’s what several clean teams regularly do and most of the fans don’t blink an eye… no forbidden product, no cheating!).

    Whereas Androni’s case was pretty significant, the peculiar nature of both cases in Katusha would make of this situation an example of the rule working in a pretty random way, which is never a good thing for a rule.

    • Agreed. This is a very odd combination of positives to have to test this new rule. Suspect they might be able to get off under paragraph (c) because Paolini’s positive related to a recreational, rather than PE, drug.

    • I also don’t think they will miss any races. They will get the suspension lifted under the third point. Easily. And this would be totally fine for me.

      • Yes, huzzah for the cheats – long may they get away with it. The reason Katusha keep getting caught is because the team have no idea what their riders are doing.
        Personally, I think they’ll take the hit, knowing that they’ll miss no big races.
        Plus, this will reset their doping tally to zero – so the next time they’re caught won’t matter.

  11. I have always thought it odd that someone like Kristoff would choose a dodgy team like Katusha. It’s a bit like Nibali with Astana – if they are clean they are taking a big risk with these teams (though Nibali would probably find it hard to move with his entourage, less so for Kristoff).

    • It is an interesting question.

      Assuming they themselves are clean, it is probably all about money. There are simply too many “stars” with “star” salary expectations and too few teams with the ability to house more than a few of them and harmoniously at that.

    • You take the money (and the help during races from artificially enhanced team mates) when joining these teams; you also take the risk (and so take the ban). And all riders concerned knew this.

    • Exactly. These riders know the risks, but they also go where the money goes.

      Eg. a rider like Nibali would never go to a team like Europcar. When he signed his last contract, for the 2013 team, only a handful of teams were serious GT contenders, Sky, Katusha, Saxo, Movistar, Astana and a couple others. Sky had its top riders already (Froome and Wiggins), Saxo had Contador, Movistar with Valverde and Quintana coming up the ranks. Then who is left? Katusha and Astana. Katusha doesn’t really have GT ability/ambitions, so BOOM, he’s at Astana.

  12. Throw the book at them. This is a team that has played the system for years. Doping is both ruining the sport and frightening away sponsors. There should be no exceptions. That the whole team suffers will be yet another lever on the imbeciles that cheat that there is a price to pay for their actions – Peer pressure will be yet another tool in the box.

    For too long the sport has chosen to take the easiest option of light punishment. Where has that got us ?

  13. I’m struggling to understand why the following compromise doesn’t get at least grudging acceptance from everybody that it follows the letter of the UCI rule:

    1. UCI Disciplinary Commission makes announcement today (Monday) and suspends Katusha for x days starting next Saturday.

    2. Katusha immediately asks UCI Disciplinary Committe to lift the suspension.

    3. UCI Disciplinary Commission convenes on Wednesday or Thursday this week.

    4. Katusha shows – easily – that it had nothing at all to do with Paolini’s cocaine bust and did as much as could be reasonably expected to avoid it.

    5. UCI Disciplinary Commission lifts the suspension effective immediately.

    The MPCC rule is, of course, another matter as is what happens if Katusha get another bust within 12 months. Does the Vorganov AAF still apply or is it discounted under double jeopardy?

    • All sounds reasonable although it’s a bit of a comedy if you suspend them for 15 days as the first reaction and then back down on this within in a week after declaring you decided to review the facts of the case 😉

  14. I agree with Gabriele that neither of these Katusha cases shed light on organised doping in the Team. I would rather the legal framework that leads to these rules being drafted was slightly less equivocal, WADA and UCI are at fault here. It’s almost as if “get out” clauses are engineered at source, leading to a sort of “these are not the doping scandals you are looking for” scenario.

    Are the unlucky Katusha and Astana teams (+ affiliates) are being subjected to some unlucky extra testing?

    Collective responsibility seems the best bet of putting the anti back into anti-doping.

  15. Some people take risks and join business enterprises that cut corners and fudge the rules to further their careers. I feel no sympathy for people who cheat or companies or organizations that cheat.
    We all make choices, have instincts or “hear” things about companies that want us to work for them. We accept to work within an employee environment of our choosing.
    Riders make choice’s, teams make choice’s they should pay the consequences of those choices just like Bernie Madoff ( the path to hell is paved with good intentions, and needs to be ridden by the cheaters)

    Rules be rules.

  16. There’s other precedents re:collective punishment.

    If a member of a relay race (Track, Running) trips the dope-o-meter everyone loses a medal. Why? Because everyone benefited from his work.

    Or, when Real Madrid illegally fielded a suspended player in the Copa del Rey, the game was conceded in favour of their opponent. Has happened before as well in other competitions. So yeah, there’s an incentive to make sure no one is screwing up.

    It’s a bit harsh, but given the state of the sport I think there are grounds to provide incentive to the managers to install internal anti-doping procedures beyond the “just don’t do it” or even worse “just don’t get caught”.

    • Though when one of Russia’s players tested positive in a European football championships playoff vs Wales, the argument that Russia might have to concede the game – and therefore miss out on qualifying for the finals – didn’t get very far.

      • If a team fields an ineligible player. the team is considered guilty and a win or a draw is turned into a loss. But if a player tests positive, the result remains. Only when two or more players test positive can a disqualification or other sanctions be considered. That is, in a nutshell, the WADA code in team sports.

        The beauty of the same code is that in *individual sports* it suffices in the case of a *team event* that one member tests positive for the team to get a DSQ *in that event*. Please note that the members who tested negative will not receive a ban or any other sanction.

        IMHO since road cycling is a strange amalgam of an individual and a team sport it would be fitting that a team and its riders would lose all points, jerseys, victories won during that event – and I could think of going as far as to take that to mean an entire stage race an – but I wouldn’t support a de facto ban for the riders who didn’t test positive. Unless. of course, the “two or more” rule applies.

        The Katusha case strikes me as one for which there is no neat and unpolitical solution or correct answer. Either the team manages to find a loophole and escapes a proper sanction or the the team gets the book thrown at it just because it is the unpretty Russian team. For once I don’t see the golden mean here.

        • Funnily enough, in the Wales-Russia case, the player concerned tested positive in the first leg and so should have been ineligible for the second. But UEFA didn’t see it that way.

          In general terms, though, you can see a difference between a sport in which 2 players have to test positive for a DSQ when only 3 are tested, and the approach that the UCI seem to be trialling here.

          In this case, wouldn’t a golden mean be a sensible and proportionate punishment: DSQ for 25 days or so.

  17. Good explainer. Like this I can’t see Katusha escaping sanction.

    The rule seems odd as it suspends first and then invites people to appeal in order to hear the facts. I dare not imagine the damage if the UCI suspended a team on the eve of the Tour de France only to find out the case was not valid when the team is allowed to put its case to them a few days later.

  18. If Vorganov was tested on 14 January 2016, and the substance went on the banned list as of 01 January 2016, how long does traces of it remain in the system if he was taking it as of, say, late December 2015 but hadn’t since?

      • Yes, it looks like you’re correct Gabriele.
        Meldonium does have a short half life.
        In looking in to this, I came across a very disturbing triathlon website forum (I found it disturbing anyway).
        It starkly demonstrates the very fine line between ‘supplement’ and doping.
        No wonder elite endurance athletes are susceptible to colds and the like; they’ve got so much ‘medicine’ floating around their system, it must surely repress the natural immune system?

        • triathlon…. it’s always struck me that there is a sport where doping would have obvious benefits, with a conspicuous absence of drug busts… not looking hard enough maybe? don’t damage the brand etc etc?

  19. Maybe a silly question- but I’m not quite sure:

    If Katusha take the hit and get banned for 15-45 days, could they serve their MPCC ban at the same time? (Assuming they didn’t appeal ban and didn’t leave MPCC.)

    Also, likening cycling teams to athletics relay races – as a couple have above – works for me. Riders are always effusive in their praise of their teammates when they cross the finish line.

    RE: riders know if they’re joining a dodgy team: yes but no – you go with what’s available, for good money, offering the best races etc etc. Only the very very top dozen-or-so pros have the luxury of shopping around, surely.

    Thanks for the post – sadly reminded me of INRNG’s 2015 wrap, which included “we’ve not had a major doping scandal.” Maybe it’ll be swept under the carpet and we’ll have forgotten by Christmas. As usual…

  20. It’s almost as if, with its ineffectual rules and bizarrely incompetent disciplinary procedure, the UCI doesn’t want to catch dopers.
    But that could never be the case.

        • Katusha riders keep getting done for drugs, but nothing is done about Katusha. (Same goes for some other teams.)
          The fact that the head of the UCI was backed by Makarov is a clear conflict of interest.
          I’m sure we’ll all hear about how the process is independent of Cookson – like everything else is.
          He has been almost completely incapable of introducing sensible, effective rules, thus far (taking away doping decisions from national federations is the exception). I don’t expect this to change.
          The only reason Katusha will accept this punishment is because it’s well-timed for them. Otherwise, it would no doubt be overturned.
          (No doubt the UCI will make a hash of the motor-in-bike situation too.)

  21. I can’t say if people speaking about “team choosing” by the riders are extremely cynical or extremely naif… as it has been shown here several times, barely any WT team can be labelled as a safe port when troubles with doping are concerned. Hence, are you telling me that Kristoff is wrong ’cause he goes to one of “those team of dopers” (the naif hypothesis), or that he made a mistake just because he’s gone to a team which was probably destined to become a political target, sooner or later (and that’s fine, but a bit cynical)?
    Maybe some people prefer a team where they’re granted their habitual personal staff rather than a team where you’re *directed* along a plan which includes undergoing strict and unhealthy alimentary regimes, or recurring to opioids or recently-tested and not-yet-marketed substances and so on. But people won’t test positive, feel assured. Deciding to go there is a bit cynical, and doesn’t mean that much that your priority is your health… or your career (perhaps some teams do have priorities regarding the appointed captains which don’t depend on sporting merit).
    In the past, some riders were known for their ability to choose the right teams to fly below the radars – it wasn’t about choosing the cleanest teams, believe me.

    The question of the conflict of interest is curious, too… We’re supposing that the national federations have some interest in protecting their athletes rather than granting the rules to be respected, hence the new UCI procedures to directly prosecute doping cases.
    That specific *interest*, which I won’t deny (albeit it has taken different forms: in Italy several national cyclists have really been hunted down in extreme ways by the Fed, for good or ill), depends on political reasons, more than everything – not necessarily on direct business involvement.
    And a national federation has got its own separation of powers which should make things work, in theory, although…
    So why should we believe that the same kind of politics don’t take place in the UCI, where the power is being held by “a ticket” of people who belonged to specific national Feds?

  22. Katusha has already lawyered up; the team is registered at the office of Swiss lawyer Alexis Schoeb,
    who Makarov has hired since 2014 to run his team. Ekimov is just a figurehead; day to day operations of the outfit are run by Geert Duffeleer, formerly GM of Leopard-Trek.

    Duffy Duffeleer was also GM of Johan Bruyneel Sports,
    which managed USPS & Discovery and was named in USADA’s Reasoned Decision as Bruyneel’s (blood) bagman.

    No wonder Vorga was on the juice; a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. Schoeb, Duffy & Co look the other way on doping at Katusha.

  23. I’m totally on board with collective punishment.

    Yes, it would be sad if Kristoff has to miss some important races, assuming he is completely innocent. But set that against all the good things that team punishment could accomplish:

    – the teams will preach to their riders against doping, and they will actually mean it
    – teams will seek to hire riders with character who sincerely believe in riding clean
    – riders will care that their teammates are clean
    – individual riders will know that if they get caught they are letting their team down
    – riders will know if they get caught doping, it will be even that much harder to find the next job

    Here is a quote from Michael Wood’s blog, Feb 2015:

    “In my brief tenure as a pro cyclist, I have yet to ride for a team, where the management of the team, sat everybody down looked every rider in the eyes an said “Don’t dope.” I have ridden for teams where it was written in our contracts not to, but never, was it expressly stated in person, not to take performance enhancing drugs. Often the subject would be awkwardly navigated, and despite being written, for a number of reasons–perhaps for fear of sounding untrusting, or accusatory–I had never, from the management of a cycling team, been looked in the eyes and told; “don’t dope.”

    “So, during our first team meeting of the year, when our Director Sportif Jonas Carney, a guy, who raced clean successfully, through one of the dirtiest periods in the sport, said;“I would rather lose, than have a rider on my team do drugs,” as cheesy as it sounds, I got chills; it was awesome. This is something that needs to be done on every bike team at every level because as blatantly obvious as the sentiment is, in this world, I have come to learn the blatantly obvious, when assumed understood, is often ignored.”

    All team sports feature collective punishments. Why should cycling be any different?

  24. Do the people putting forward the theory that Katusha are being targeted by the UCI have any evidence for this? And how does this work with the now (supposed?) independent testing?
    I’m not saying that other teams are clean – far from it: I suspect most if not all are adopting the ‘If it’s legal, it’s fine’ philosophy – but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Katusha (and Astana) are worse than most.
    Personally, I’m just not buying the idea that Katusha and Astana only have more positives because they’re being picked on. (This all just smacks of conspiracy theory.)
    As much as I don’t like the UCI, I can see no reason for them to do this (they did in the past – but that was different people with differnent reasons).
    Also, if the UCI were attempting to do this, they probably lack the competence to do it efficiently.

    • The ISSUL Audit article in Inner Ring’s archives is an interesting read.
      Firstly, Vorganov is 33 years old and this fits in with the research by Lausanne University that profiled doping cyclists – 58% are over 30 years old.
      On this basis alone, it would seem sensible to target older cyclists more.

      Also, the basis of the ISSUL Audit seems to suggest that most doping problems stem from the lone wolf situation. Often within a less-well funded team providing poorer support to its riders.
      Is this the case with Katusha? I wouldn’t have thought they lack the funding. On the contrary, us Westerners have dark thoughts about the Russians systematic doping arrangements.

      But, regardless of the collective punishment argument, Katusha should at the very least be made to adopt the ISSUL Audit principles, like Astana were made to.

      • “Also, the basis of the ISSUL Audit seems to suggest that most doping problems stem from the lone wolf situation.” What a surprise! Has there EVER been a case where a team claimed anything OTHER than this? Seems even the most organized doping programs always claim the positive test was the result of the actions of a single rider, unbeknownst to the team directors/management.
        I predicted the big K team would skate on this and now we see they have. “Mr. Mars” and his crony “The Mad Hatter” must be laughing as pro cycling’s “improved” under the new Cookson regime.
        Same as it ever was – the rules only apply to the little fish. Examples can be easily made of them to make it seem like the rules are enforced while the big fish pretty much get away with doing whatever they like.

    • Your plenty of evidence about Katusha is the, both quite borderline, Vorganov and Paolini cases? Since a pretty good number of positives and other critical situation which happened to Katusha lie in that “past” you deem as long gone. Midway sits the Caruso case, with a retrospective test which has been realised now but referred to 2012.
      Oh, yes, the juvenile team. Don’t forget that. A familiar pattern.

      Don’t you find it a bit, just a bit, peculiar that they were having a steady stream of doping cases from at least 2011 on, then suddendly they went *totally clean* for a couple of seasons, then again they started having a whole lot of – quite multifarious, this time! – doping questions, from last summer on? Most of which appeared to be very concentrated in time, besides being very specific?

      Is it so usual that you go back testing again the samples of a gregario, taken at the beginning of one of what (we – and the UCI – now know that in hindsight!) was going to be his worst season or so? I must infer that they’re testing absolutely everyone – I doubt that, for economic reasons, at least – ; or that they go around testing at random, purely so – hey, bad luck for Caruso! – ; or that they went testing – more than three years later… – because Katusha was being targeted.
      About a month before, speaking of bad luck, Paolini was caught with a test after a stage where he came in 170th or such. It wasn’t clear if it was regular random testing, from some sources it looks like it was part of in-competition testing by the UCI (which isn’t random at all). I suspect that people weren’t totally unaware of what could be found in Paolini’s piss. But that’s conspiracy theory… or daily reality in the peloton.
      That same August RUSADA caught for “unspecified violations” the couple of guys in the juvenile team, the same day that the Athletics Federation accepted its ban.

      Coincidence is a powerful factor in history, yet when such an amount of coincidences coincide, I wonder, at least, if the same regime of retrospective testing (and so on, and so on) does apply to every team.
      I also ask myself why M3ld0nium and not 7ramad0l or T3lmisartan went on the list… they’re both widespread, especially 7ramadoI, with no proportion to related health issues which may require them (which is one of the criteria which led to the Meld0nium ban), and they can be deemed as *more* dangerous, too, if such a classification makes any sense. I’d have prohibited all of them, but the WADA doesn’t think so, apparently.

      Are they being targeted? Not fair, but perhaps it’s fine, all the same.
      Unless it becomes a tool of political pressure and, through collective ban, slips towards results manipulation. There aren’t that many top dogs in the Classics, after all.

      • Yes, the other drugs should have been banned.
        Are Katusha being targeted? We don’t know.
        If they are being targeted, is this because of political machinations or because the testers know they are dirty?
        Could be both: either way, if they weren’t so consistently doping, they wouldn’t be caught.

    • Apparently, it’s kazakh soup all over again: a pinch of pressure, a mouthful of menace, but eventually water it all down with some good sense and respect for the due procedures.

      If it’s a well-pondered recipe they’re executing, here, I don’t dislike it at all.

      Whereas if it’s the result of various characters messing around in the kitchen and pulling the cook’s hand in a direction, than in the other… “make it saltier – no, wait, that’s too spicy”… in that case, I’m afraid that the dinner will be spoilt, sooner or later.

  25. The FWs have yet again given this team a free card. You could hardly make it up. I hope all those pleading for no sanctions are satisfied. I really do give up.

    Recreational doping is fine for bike riders is the new ‘get out of jail’ card. These issues show such a gross level of incompetency and/or corruption it is difficult to comprehend.

    • “Recreational doping” as you call it is actually a drug addiction and a really serious disease. It sounds like Paolini needs help to recover from this, not judgement from us….

      Sounds like he’s been using this more often than he was telling his friends and family, which is something that needs support.

      Plus, athletes don’t use cocaine for performance enhancement… it does as much good as adding some splenda to your water bottle.

  26. If cheating is to be eliminated – a dream it seems – then the teams need to be encouraged to contribute. Now this! Cookson/UCI started well with the CIRC report but since then it’s downhill and they always find an excuse to do almost nothing. The cheaters will be smiling and any team trying to progress honestly will feel let down. It’s the bad old days again and CIRC appears to have been complete a waste of time.

    • Hey, I’m all for getting cheaters, but cocaine isn’t cheating. It hurts the athlete more than speeds them up!

      Throw the book at the teams and athletes who try to cheat, but recreational drugs don’t do squat!

      • UCI’s decision is something that is understandable to cool heads…. butt t does sound like the rider had been spiralling out of control for years while with the sleeping pills, is there an argument that the team should have done better by him?

        • Graham, your worries have all my sympathy, but we’re speaking of a world where half of the peloton is needlessly fed on opioids, and that’s legal. The *straight* guys are up to that…
          …how could anyone get alarmed by sleeping pills?!
          We could also start to speak about the psychological problem related to weight control (some very interesting page was posted around here some time ago), which gives you a measure of what’s the level of “teams doing better for the riders” in cycling.

        • Agreed – it seems like whoever was continually prescribing sleeping pills should have noticed a problem. Plus family, close friends, teammates, his employer, etc. could have done more. That’s the thing with serious substance abuse – it often goes untreated for years, and can have really bad results.

          Hopefully he has help now to treat this.

          • Yup, the legal drug use in the peloton is rife. And cocaine shouldn’t mean a ban. But as it did mean a ban for Paolini, it’s very convenient if it now doesn’t mean a ban for Katusha.

      • You are right about cocaine but there will always be a mitigating factor. According to UCI rules Katusha should have been suspended.

        To change requires courage which is not much evident today

  27. To continue the theme, we still have a triple-decked dessert to sink our critical teeth in to. Namely B samples, an MPCC suspension and how Katusha/Kathy respond to that judgment.

  28. This is an open and shut case. Either Paolini’s case was an ADRV or it wasn’t. It was enough for him to be thrown out of the Tour and banned. So the clear penalty is a minimum suspension of 15 days for Katusha. Cookson’s words about the Katusha suspension being ‘a problem’ show that he is captured, gone native. The problem is when rule breaking goes unpunished, not the reverse.

    Weak enforcement perpetuates weak team management and the arm’s length, laissez faire culture. It penalises clean athletes. The sport continues to limp with zero credibility.

    • Cocaine and drug addiction issues aren’t clear cases. If this was EPO, then clear case, but most recreational drugs don’t help the athlete.

  29. Check this out – total garbage! Russian Minister says nothing wrong with Russian anti-doping:


    I’ve said too much above about how Luca Paolini’s issue isn’t a doping problem, but this part is brutal! Anyone associated with Russian Olympic sports can’t be anywhere close to the UCI, sports administration, teams or athletes! Their whole system is worse than Lance – in fact they probably saw the Reasoned Decision and said “thanks for the blueprint!!! We can make this work way better!”

  30. Surely, no one expected any other outcome to this story? A team owned by one of the most powerful man in cycling wasn’t going to get banned. The conflict of interest here is too obvious.

  31. Anyone care to guess what team we are most likely too be talking about in the next doping incident
    on a WT team?

    Katusha? certainly greater then (1/# of WT teams).

  32. I have NO sympathy for recreational doping, whatever form it takes. These people need medical help, not our sympathy. They are destroying our sport and its reputation and simply don’t care. This outcome simply gives the excuse to every smart Alec that they need only argue that they were doping for recreational use. Try and draw the line. I am old enough to have heard the old same defence trotted out about amphetamines, and see where that got both us and many of the riders who became addicted. Are people really trying to imply that NO ONE, not a single person on the Katusha team was aware of the problem. Don’t they have doctors ? Most of us can identify someone on recreational drugs as soon as we see their face – before even having any conversation, let alone share bedrooms with them. I seem to remember that Boonen and others have had similar problems with the same substance. The Columbia’s of the 70s and 80s were selling coke to riders on a regular basis, so this is hardly a new or surprising phenomenon. The fact that doping becomes institutionalized, means that those involved can’t see the problem – it becomes a normal part of their lives. I still see several ex-riders who are suffering from long term addiction as a result of having been bike riders. It is not pleasant to see where it has taken them.

    In truth, this idiotic and difficult to comprehend judgement will drive a coach and horses through the doping procedure. It would be unwise to take the line that we should have sympathy with dopers of any kind in our sport. They dope through choice, and don’t give a shit about us or the sport.

    • Cocaine use isn’t doping… why do people keep calling it that. The benefits of riding on cocaine are far outweighed by the toll it puts on the rider.

      Drug addiction, plain and simple (to use your language), is a disease, just like breast cancer, diabetes, lupus, etc. Addicts use pills, cocaine, etc. out of “choice”, strongly influenced by their addiction, this has been proven – you’re just proving your ignorance when you say otherwise.

      Luca’s use of cocaine was not because of a need to go faster.

      I agree, pull him out of the sport until he is healthy (ie. clean and sober), but don’t penalise his team for this. A cycling team’s doctor is not a personal healthcare practicioner and it isn’t his job to solve these complex diseases.

      Moving on people….

      Katusha should be looked at because of Igor Makarov’s influence on the UCI, ownership of Katusha, plus his role in the Russian Olympic program’s instituted doping. Does that report count as a doping positive? Were any Katusha riders caught in that report?

  33. I never argued that cocaine was being used for sporting advantage. It is however still dope, recreational or not and inappropriate to be associated with sportsman.

    This judgement gives an open door for doping to be termed recreational – I remind you of the amphetamine example given in my earlier post. I see that Cookson has now stated that he is sympathetic to riders problems of being potentially withdrawn from competition and the implications for their long term form ! WTF, why is everyone being so ‘sympathetic’ when our sport is being ruined and dragged through the mud yet again. If anybody really thought the UCI was serious about tackling this problem, then then have now heard from the horses mouth the truth. Spare me the sympathy argument, this guy, and others on his team knew exactly what was going on and the bad publicity the sport would get as a result if he were caught.

    That they simply didn’t care removes any need for sympathy. That the UCI is now seen as complicit is even more worrying.

    • The UCI IS COMPLICIT because Igor Makarov is on the Executive Committee…. why are you making a big deal about cocaine use.

      The team and UCI are systematically linked with the Russian doping ring! Cocaine use doesn’t matter… That’s like a murderer being charged with jaywalking, it’s so far removed from the actual problem.

      This is ridiculous. This case only opens the doors for potentially recreational drugs to be termed recreational, an argument that will never exist for drugs that actually help a rider go fast. Steroids, HGH, testosterone, etc. will never be termed recreational. To be honest, riders loaded with amphetamines have lost the Tour to clean riders in the past… they’re drugs that DON’T MATTER!

  34. WOW. You accuse me of knowing little about drugs, before you go on to show your own ignorance of attitudes and history within our sport. We are not talking about a medical or PC environment here, but the harsh reality of being on the road in the bike game. If you want to be an apologist for recreational doping fine, but at least don’t try and change my words to fit your personal agenda. I would like one named example of an amphetamine clean rider who won the Tour between 1950 and 1965. I have a list of all the winners. Amphetamines in their day DID make a difference to performance, they were even responsible for the loss of several well known lives. Please stop making it up as you go along.

    For sportsman recreational drugs, including Coke DO matter, because they are an indicator of both addiction and an attitude that suggests more than you appear to be able to comprehend. Why do you suppose that this practice was ignored by those within the team when they surely knew about it ? They certainly didn’t feel the need to get help for the individual. If you live in that world, it becomes natural and acceptable. I don’t like to pull the experience card, but I have observed the association first hand. Have you ?

    I am not going to get involved in a series of posts that will simply not persuade you as your posts clearly indicate I would be wasting my time. I will end by reiterating the essence of this judgement. It is ill founded, dishonest, brings the UCI into disrepute and opens the door for future abuse.

    Time will prove me correct.

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