Thursday, February 16, 2012

Doping: Why we should be looking to cycling's future and not its past

Doping has always been a tense issue in cycling probably ever since people stated racing them in the 1800s.
Over the past month it has been three names that have kept cycling in the news, for all the wrong reasons. Alberto Contador, Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong have all been subject to doping investigations, which have all come to some sort of conclusion.

So far, the results of all of these cases have pretty much sent me to despair with the doping authorities. No matter if you believe they are innocent or guilty, I don’t think anyone can be in any doubt that the handling of these three cases has been nothing more than a shambles.

Contador and Ullrich
Contador’s case came to its conclusion 19 months after the Spaniard was found with clenbuterol in his system. He was then handed out a two year ban, which effectively amounts to seven months; while he has been able to race during most of his ban. Ultimately, if you are going to ban him, he should have his 2010 Tour de France, but his ban should start form the date of the verdict.

Ullrich’s case makes Contador’s look like it was expedited, with the German’s ban effective from 2005. With the German already well retired it is like sacking someone, who has already left the company. Both of these cases highlight the issue of, what I deem as useless, retrospective bans. It also puts into question the validity of national governing bodies ruling on their old riders.

Why retrospective bans are pointless
If we are going to start handing out retrospective bans, should we take away some Laurent Fignon victories while he was high on cocaine? Should Andre Agassi get lumped with a two year retrospective ban, after he admitted that he lied to the ATP about taking recreational drugs? While we’re on tennis, I think Contador should have got some lawyer advice from Richard Gasquet. People who think the cyclist’s excuse was a little weaker should take a look at the Frenchman’s piss poor excuse. Gasquet claimed the reason for the presence of cocaine in his system was down to him kissing a woman, who had taken it. Come on CAS where are you on this one?

The Armstrong saga
Finally we have a look at the ongoing saga, which really should be put to bed now, of Armstrong and his federal review. To be honest I think this one should be left alone and forgotten about. Now this is nothing to do with whether I think he is innocent or guilty, but more to do with the sanity of cycling and the safety of his cancer charity.

The Federal investigation going to raise many more questions than answering any, if it to be opened again. To be honest the whole thing is a bit like trying to bake a cake with your elbows, you’re not going to get what you want and you’re just going to make an almighty mess. The investigation isn’t going to be able to pinpoint a particular date, if they do deem that he has doped, and is going to put a huge question mark over all of the American’s results. Unusually, Pat McQuaid hit the nail on the head when he said we should be focusing on cycling’s future. The past is now the past and we should be focusing on making future cycling cleaner.

Another reason I would like to see Armstrong left alone, is the impact it could have on his cancer charity. As the member of a family who has been well and truly impacted by cancer, I don’t want anything to be taken away from this. His charity does too much good work and I would like it to be kept that way.

I could talk about these three cases, but i am going to leave it there. I think we can all agree that we would like to see cycling get cleaner.

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