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1568 Posts

Why drugs are such a problem in cycling..a few musings for discu

Drugs use in cycle sport is as old as the sport itself if stories of early classics and tours are to be believed.
As as an exstreeme endurance test the Tour De france in particuler is an event where the effects have been shown to have a detrimental effect on a riders well being to such an exstent that life exspectancy is slightly reduced.
I find myself asking, perhaps here is , at least in part, one reason pro sport has the drug problem.
Perhaps,in remaining true to the 3 weeks format of the tdf it condemened it to be the most drug addled of races in many case`s merely to get through it.
As well as the several hours a day in the saddle the professional peloton has to endure levals of noise and commotion at the begining and end of each stage that would drive most people to distraction.
A typical days food intake is two to three times the average calorie intake and the enjoyment of food is largely replaced with a "fueling" mentality.
Add the travelling, the living out of a suitcase,the missing of family, the constant knowlege that your only as good as your last season in terms of employability and the presures to abuse mount.
Another...and at the winners leval, a differant set of presures is the fact that road cycling,as an endurance sport lends itself to the "benifits" of doping at a greater % of noticable differance. When your talking multi million pound contracts and whole teams of peoples living then the presures on team leaders are not something the average joe can very well understand.
Obviously no one holds a gun to any ones head and ultimatly a rider carries the can when caught but consider the age of the average pro, the brevity of the average pro career and difficulty of the task we exspect of them (tdf in particular) and perhaps we get what we deserve?

  1. 3545 Posts

    Yep.
    We would all be screaming blue murder if the Grand Tours were reduced to just one week with only flat stages and no longer than 75 miles. If we delight in seeing people suffer in 110 degree heat on a high mountain day after day we can't really complain if they look for a little enhancement to make life easier.
    Had I been a pro I know full well that I would have doped, even if it was only to be accepted as "One of the boys".

  2. 7071 Posts

    I understand the temptation to dope, and the pressure to dope, though not personally.
    However, if the rules say you can't, then you shouldn't, and if you get caught you should be banned.
    If the Tour gets slower, or perhaps, harder to predict, then so be it. If there is a desire to make races shorter then the race organisers or riders need to work on acheiving that. However races were considerably longer 25 years ago, usually, and making them shorter doesn't seem to have reduced the temptation to cheat.
    Who knows, maybe the peleton will soon be racing clean! :)

  3. 1568 Posts

    Perhaps the 3rd week is the bigger issue?..Tour Of Spain and Italy don`t seem to have such a big problem though Im fully aware of the possibility of this being down to lower integrity of testing my gut feeling is the exstra weeks racing could be the major issue. This sets it apart from all other stage races in it`s severity.

  4. 7071 Posts

    Sorry to question you Dazz(maybe I've read your post wrong) but the Tours of Italy, Spain and France are all 3 weeks long. Though the Vuelta now has shorter stages than the other two, generally.
    Whatever. Presumably Ricco was cheating when trying to win Milan-San Remo, he nearly got away to win, although he only admits to cheating at the Tour de France.
    In the same way, there are some riders like Zabel and Bruseghin who have raced at close to their best all season, and others like Cunego who have been more picky but done no better. Its hard to know if any riders are really being "drawn into" illegal medical preparation or if they are just more likely to cheat (because they're essentially spoilt brats).
    If testing really becomes omnipotent and everyone knows there is a very good chance of being caught, then they'll stop.
    I don't like to draw the analogy with real criminals, but if every burglar or mugger knew they'd be caught every second time they committed an offence, then the price of their criminal activity would be too high. If a burglar knows he can do 50 jobs without being caught then he might be more likely to take that chance.
    As I say, I can understand why riders might be tempted to dope, but if they know they're going to be caught then they'll stop.
    Hopefully!

  5. 1568 Posts

    No problem wuv. maybe im wrong on that point...Ive allways belived the Italian and spanish tours to be two weeks!. Big gaff if im wrong!..doh.
    It would seem making it a criminal offence of "sporting fraued" as , I gather ,France has might indeed be the way forward. The main point Im hoping to get across here is just how hard pro cycling is and perhaps we ask to much?
    Eddie Soens, the famous coach who often mentored me said the 3 hardest sports of all are boxing, cross country sking and cycling. I think he was right.

  6. 111 Posts

    Daryl
    Are you basing these assumptions on your experience of ten plus years ago or do you have any experience relevant to todays world of cycling?

  7. 2217 Posts

    I would hate to see the big 3 tours "dumbed down" - reduced in severity or length.
    I like my heros to have to make heroic efforts in order to qualify for that status.
    You are quite correct that riders have looked to gain advantage by many means (drugs included) since the commencement of cycle racing as a sport. And yes, cycling does lend itself to drug taking as a means of an aid to significantly improve performance.
    But it would be a shame to throw the towell in now, just when the authorities are starting to get the upper hand, testing becoming more efficient and punishments handed out.
    Most riders would rather compete fairly, rather than worrying what their opponents are taking and thus trying to find something to take that will make them equal or better than them.

  8. 1568 Posts

    Hi Cb, i dont think im realy presuming anything. Wapa officials admit that at best they catch less than half of abusers but this is a figure that perhaps is improving.
    In discussion this issue im exsploring what are possible reasons for the apparant widespread use in the sport.
    Its all very well punishing those caught but rather like bus`s there always seems to be new case around the corner.
    There was when I raced and it apears little diferant now.
    Without understanding the culture and preasures that lead to abuse the heart of the problem will never be tackled.


  9. Without understanding the culture and preasures that lead to abuse the heart of the problem will never be tackled.

    I think the culture is key to understanding the problem - culture both inside and outside the peleton. I doubt pro cyclists are any more disposed to becoming drug users than bin men, doctor, teachers, or any other group of people which suggests the decision to take drugs is situational.
    Imagine you're a young pro. You've worked for years to get here and now you're part of the in-group. But you've also gone from being top amateur to barely hanging on at the back as a pro. Someone tells you what you need to do to be competitive. What are you going to do? It's easy for me or anyone else who's never been in that situation to say I'd refuse because it goes against my values. But the reality is that the situation can lead people to behave in ways they never thought possible.
    For as long grand tours have existed drugs have been part of it. But is it any wonder? The riders used to be treated worse than animals. Drugs were for survival as much as competitive advantage. Today the stages are shorter, the roads and bikes are better, and the riders have everything bar riding the bike taken care of for them. But what hasn't changed is the demand for suffering. The organisers still want a 'worthy champion', still want to test the limits of what's humanly possible, and the spectators too. We talk of heroic solo victories but never heroic sprint finishes. When we're watching a 'heroic' attack we cheer from the edge of the road or the edge of our seat, it's only afterwards that we rationalise the performance and condemn our 'hero' for using drugs. Our culture needs heroes. Like heroes of the battlefield whom we never used to ask how they did what they did, we just thanked them and held them up as an example of what we all should aspire to be. Today we deride soldiers for doing what they do because we've seen what it takes for them to do it. And we deride the cyclists we want to entertain us with superhuman performances when we find out they are only human and needed drugs to fulfill our expectations.
    Supposedly there's a new culture in pro cycling. The number of positives for CERA suggests otherwise. We'll see. However, as long as the wider culture (us the fans, the sponsors, the TV companies) want heroes and heroic suffering we'll have drugs in sport.
    Culture. You've hit the nail on the head there, Dazzricles.

  10. 1568 Posts

    Very well put Major. Its nice to see there is some empathy for the position pro cyclists find them selves and recognition of just how hard road sport is.
    My exspieriance was that the pro peloton is not a very happy place for many riders.
    It may appear very glamerous but its soon wears off when your facing a grim day in the saddle, your still aching from the previous day, the noise from cars, whistles, spectaters means you cant hear yourself think and to top it all, unless your a team leader or nominated rider your chances of having a win in a whole season are very limmited. Its not hard to imagine what that does to the moral of many new pros who previously were champions in the amauter ranks.

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