Monday, January 31, 2011

Floyd and MABRA Drug Testing

There's been some chatter on MABRA about having drug testing at a local event. Testing would occur once and be paid for by the riders of that one event.

Man, I'd pay twice that to bust anyone who dopes and races against me. Up until this Fall, when I rolled up to a race I didn't usually think about doping. I assumed everyone was clean.

Then I read about Joe Papp's sting operation. Apparently, over 100 riders across the country purchased Chinese EPO from Joe several years ago. Buyers included a local Cat 3, Michigan and Colorado masters racers, and a boatload of others who have yet to be named.

Then came Floyd Landis' pretty much decisive indictment of professional cycling, making it clear that at the top level, doping is ubiquitous, if not universal.

I race to win, and I race to beat people fairly, and I know I fail at this almost every time. Part of the joy of racing is believing I am up against guys facing the same obstacles and aided by the same training, nutrition, and fanatical devotion to power data. Guys who believe in the rules, the sanctity of bike racing.

Pro cycling, as Floyd convincingly details it, has an entirely different set of rules (please, please, read this interview--it's the best thing I've read on cycling since You Got Dropped first dropped).

Amateur cycling is our sport. It's guys I know. I don't want it to be a game of testing and funding and lies and so on.

I'm not sure what to think. It's weird contemplating a sport where we'd test people and not just trust them to show up clean. But maybe I'm being naive.

11 comments:

dropped said...

Thanks for the shout. There are probably or have probably been cheaters in our MABRA. Do we really want to open up that box or is it better to never know the wicked?

Gregg H. said...

"Testing would occur once and be paid for by the riders of that one event." Sounds great, but if the testing is announced before hand then the dirty riders will simply stay home that day. Unfortunately, some goes for those (clean racers) on a low budget. True, at least everyone will know it's clean race.

jared said...

USADA does not announce when, where, or who will be tested.

Everyone should be supporting this endeavor. There is absolutely no reason not to support this.

Nick said...

1) i haven't been at it too long just yet, but i really, really like racing bikes

2) i really, really like racing bikes because i like beating people

3) i can't beat everybody, there are a lot of dudes who are faster than me

4) i want them to be faster than me because they put in more work, or because they raced smarter, NOT because they put a patch on their grundle or shot up with HGH last week

5) i would happily spend $10 to promote clean racing in MABRA, even though i do not think it is a "problem" per se at this level (i have not even ever heard anything)

6) the way this has been portrayed (i have read the thread) is "let's raise $5k to have an as-yet-undetermined smattering of riders tested at one race (please correct me if i have missed something here)

7) i happen to believe that not to be the most efficient use of $5k in promoting clean racing. it is my personal, unprofessional opinion that random testing is a much more effective deterrent, especially if it could be instituted not at one race but across a series

8) i want to give my $10 to that instead, and i applaud anyone who would undertake such an effort

9) starting the debate is frequently the most difficult and most important step

10) let's go race bikes

Peter Warner said...

I guess I'm in the same boat...not sure what to think of all this. Are we all just a little more cynical as cyclist? I mean, sure, other amateur sports (Tri/Running, etc.) don't seem to have near the stigma as cycling as a "you can't win unless you dope" sport. I think everyone supports a "clean" sport, but hell, obviously the professional ranks haven't even figured out how to catch the cheaters. Doping is a hugely expensive undertaking for the both the doper and the testing. I think to some degree the weight of keeping our region "clean" is that we do police ourselves. How to do that? Not sure exactly, but I do know that if I had a rider on my team already at the elite level and all of the sudden over the course of 6-12 months went from average in their category to domination, it should provoke an internal conversation with that said rider. It's not like folks train in a bubble around here. Temptations are always present, young and old. I think it would be really cool to have a stage for our region's elite riders whereby they could share how they prepare, train, motivate themselves, etc. Help guide and show the youth and amateur riders that a ton of hard work produces results. Heck, even what legal products are out there they use...god knows there a zillion of them making claims of improvement. I don't think the threat of testing is a deterrent to the rider that will use PEDs. It has been proven over and over again in the pro peleton. I'll see you on the start line with a clear conscience!

Calvini said...

@dropped: a "you got doped" column would be awesome.

I think we should support testing, no doubt. It's only a few bucks, and maybe it'd help deter some cheating. Jared--this is a really cool idea.

But I also believe we can more thoroughly address cheating by developing a sense of community and, as awkward as it sounds to say it, community values. I should want to be clean because I like my fellow riders and respect them, and also because I believe they're clean.

I think we should encourage MABRA-ites to speak up about this because getting committment to a drug-free MABRA is a helluva lot more important than just testing for PEDs. That's one lesson we can learn from the pros.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is the right approach, nor do I think the discussion has been broached in an appropriate way.

Jared, this issue is not so black and white that you can either be for it or else you support doping. What's your real goal here? Publicity? Team visibility? Regional visibility?

Is there really any evidence that mabra is so rife with doping that we need random testing to prove we're not? Are you going to feel vindicated when a Cat 5 gets a two year ban for the wrong allergy meds?

Pete C said...

I can't help but think that USADA testing(or any organization for that matter) can be and is often beat by doped athletes.

Still, going through the motions is a start, and starting is better than not starting

mike s said...

the amount of resistance to this proposal is so absolutely mind-boggling, i'm having a hard time articulating a cogent reply to it. i simply cannot believe there'd be any resistance at all to a grass-roots testing effort. it's awfully cute that some people think "it couldn't happen here" (and oh, how i envy that kind of naivete), but pappgate has proven conclusively that yes, in fact, it very well could happen here; and anyone who's been racing locally for the last six or seven years knows that it probably has happened here.

further, the proposal itself is coming from the very team most likely to have fingers pointed at it. it's been clarified time and time again that the testing is random; no one knows who, when, or what will draw the short straw. and still, people are questioning the point.

i can't wait until the next list of papp customers comes out, and it's revealed they're all masters and cat3s. not that it should matter, but it will be interesting to see who still digs in their heels.

just, wow.

Martin Andres Austermuhle said...

Mike,

First off, the "resistance" isn't to the theory as much as it is to the execution. From what we've been presented, we're talking $5,000-6,000 for 5-10 tests at a single event. That's it. Is that the most effective use of our money? Moreover, with a community this size, is there enough legitimate concern to warrant such an expenditure? (Just because pros dope doesn't mean we do, and just because a very limited number of amateurs do certainly doesn't mean that any of those in MABRA do.)

Also, as much as you try to spin this as "grassroots," there's simply nothing "grassroots" about being tested by USADA. If by chance you didn't know to fill out an exemption form for that medication your doctor prescribed, USADA isn't trained to cut you some slack. Worse yet, none of us have the resources to fight any suspensions that would arise from such situations.

At the end of the day, Jared had a nice idea, but those of us who are skeptical are simply asking questions that need to be asked. We're NOT for doping.

Finally, this is a small community, and we should act like one. Watch out for the guys you race with and race against. We should be the ones keeping each other honest, not hoping that a once-a-season feel-good USADA test will do it for us.

In four years of racing, I have never thought I have been beaten by someone who was doping. I think we'd all be hard-pressed to say we were.

JMP said...

One thing you might consider doing, which doesn't cost anything but a phone call, is to reach out to USADA with any concrete evidence you have of another athlete's doping, or even well-founded suspicion. They are in a position to analyze the information and decide to pursue it with targeted testing, if warranted, that comes out of their budget. Clearly this is only viable if you actually have reason to believe that one of your competitors is really doping.