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Doping and the future

Here’s the full statement from British Cycling’s President, Brian Cookson:

“The announcement that Floyd Landis, the winner of the Tour de France, has failed an initial drug test is a very disappointing moment for our sport. If the test is confirmed, then appropriate disciplinary action will no doubt be taken, in accordance with the WADA and UCI regulations and procedures.

“British Cycling supports those regulations and procedures, and is confident that the matter will be handled effectively. I offer my support to Pat McQuaid, President of the UCI, in his efforts to deal with this issue, and urge him to take the firmest possible stance. Clearly, drug abuse, other forms of doping and, indeed, other forms of cheating, are certainly present in other sports, but that does not absolve all those involved in our sport – teams, sponsors, event organisers, governing bodies and indeed the riders themselves, from their responsibities. There is a problem and we have to do something about it.

“In Great Britain, we have invested millions of pounds in developing our sport, and we at British Cycling are totally committed to ensuring that all cyclists are aware of the dangers of doping. We have a 100% commitment to drug-free sport in all our Excellence, Coaching and Development programmes, from Olympians to our Talent Development squads, and we remain committed to working with UK Sport, the BOA, the UCI and WADA to ensure that anyone caught cheating is dealt with openly and firmly, in accordance with the regulations.

“In my view, the future of professional road racing now lies in the balance, and this is a critical moment. We must make sure that we have a sport that our young people can enter, knowing that they can achieve the highest levels without having to resort to doping or quasi-medical procedures that are not only ethically and morally dubious, but also risk their current and future health.

“I am confident that progress has been made in recent years, but clearly the problem has not gone away. For far too long, far too many people involved in professional road racing have ignored their responsibilities and this has got to change, once and for all. The alternative is that road cycling could become a grotesque parody of a sport, with sponsors, media, and the public all walking away.”

Brian Cookson
President, British Cycling

RCUK’s editor’s view

There’s been loads of opinion flying around on the Floyd Landis case. Until a B sample has been properly tested and the results are released it’s hard to know where to start exactly. However it has already damaged cycling massively and it’s this damage that we are mainly so perplexed about. We need to look into the deep hole it has created and find out more about why, when and how these performance enhancing drugs work. Moreover what it is the riders are looking to prevent – and then make some changes, to keep them away from these problems and these drugs.

As a bike ‘racer’ I’d like to think I’d always be able to race clean. Most of us do. But it’s hard to see anyone getting through the really bad days without the temptation of some ‘help’. As an amateur rider you can take an early shower, but as a Tour de France rider that’s not really an option. It’s a brutal sport that requires a rider to be at the top of his form all the time, or risk losing everything. So they take risks with drugs and in some cases they still lose everything. I’m not saying it’s right, but in simplistic terms, that’s just the way it’s always been.

Cycling gets a raw deal, OK? Cheating goes on in all sports, all the time, and no sport is exempt. Yes, even Ice skating. So how Dick Pound can be taken seriously is beyond me, he clearly has a vendetta and politics as his main aim, not sport, or tackling the issues of drugs in sport for that matter. He needs to wake up and see the reality of the Fuentes case and the fact that it reaches many sports and he has much more work to do elsewhere as he does with cycling.

But then again let’s not keep comparing ourselves with the worst, this is also an opportunity to improve.

I am not alone in thinking that until the old guard are swept aside and a new type of race mentality can be replaced, the doping will continue. The nasty side of cycling is still here, we need new blood (excuse the pun) perhaps some independent doctors and more referees running the sport and we need new racing and a different pattern as to how the races are run. The Festina affair taught us (the public) that a lot of riders were looking for an advantage, whatever the consequences, but since then they have just continued down that slippery slope. Now we are at the bottom, so perhaps it’s time to start climbing back up. Change is essential.

I largely agree with Brian Cookson here, that we are at a tipping point and we need to change in order to attract young people to the sport, carry on doping and cycling is doomed. We’ve invested hours of our time in races and riders only for them to be proved a sham. It’s frustrating for journalists to write about these heroes only for them to be shown up as villains – it’s seedy and we’ve all had enough now. So yes, we need to be firm and we need to realise that cycling has to change, from the inside.

But isn’t it sport as a whole that needs to be held to account, not just these few riders?


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