I don't use performance enhancing drugs, but this year I raced like I was on them.
First, I won the crit at Page Valley Stage Race. Then I won the Coppi 1/2. Then I won the Masters 35+ Road Race Championship. I went for three months without finishing out of the top five.
This would possibly be subpar if I was Rick Norton (he's done it for years, after all), but because it was me, it should've raised some flags.
I fit the profile of the typical American doper:
(1) Middle aged (meaning between the ages of 35 - 65, not relating to the period between the collapse of the Roman Empire and the rise of the nation states in the 15th Century);
(3) Historically middle-of-the-pack abilities; and
(4) Narcissistic (I blog, ergo I am vain).
The latter part of this Summer, I fit the classic modern doping profile about as closely as is possible.
Thankfully, MABRA and USAC threw $12,000 of our dollars toward testing our local MABRA races, so everyone would know--red flags like me would surely be subject to vigorous testing.
Right? Isn't that what we were told in December?
Except that's not how it worked. I wasn't tested. Not a drop of urine begged.
Why wasn't I tested?
Remember the money, nine months ago, we in MABRA decided--not without some objections--to give to USADA so they would test us? MABRA and November Bikes both earmarked significant thousands in our cash for a USAC anti-doping program ("Race Clean") at the MABRA level. We had discussion on the MABRA board, surveys and analysis, and decided as a community to put somewhere around $6,000 of our local funds toward testing. USAC matched MABRA's funds, bringing the total to $12,000.
Remember, most of this originated from our own pockets, whether it came from our USAC membership dues or from our race entry fees and other contributions to MABRA. The one exception was November, who simply gave money the old fashioned way--out of pure charity.
Now that the season is essentially over, it's time to look back and ask what we got for our money.
It's not a complicated answer. We got jack squat for our money.
There are two possible conclusions about USAC's program and how it worked in MABRA:
(1) USADA can identify riders who should be tested (like me), but simply didn't--meaning no one was tested;
(2) USADA did test riders, but since they did not test me, they didn't test the riders they should have tested.
In either case, it's clear USADA failed.
I have no question about who is to blame--it's our MABRA leaders and the folks who pressured them toward this program. The idea was right, but we should have known that we'd never get what we were vaguely promised. Contracts require terms, and ours had none. Without specific promises for X number of tests on Y number of athletes, our MABRA board members should never have handed over our cash.
Unfortunately, the zealots pushed this one through. They used the "anyone against this is for doping;" ironically, the same kind of argument Lance had used with cancer (i.e., if you're against me, you're for cancer). And, surprise, we got hosed.
The failure of MABRA's attempt at drug testing is really two-fold: (1) it was money poorly spent; (2) it eroded our social contract with each other. Like children who appeal to adults for justice, we took a step back from our responsibility to each other. We appealed to a higher power that turned out to be off running press conferences.
We should've just said, "If you dope, you're an idiot, and if you care enough to spend $12,000 on a program to catch idiots, you're also an idiot."
Next year, let's spend the money on recruiting new riders to the sport and on juniors. Better yet, let's cut race fees and pay our officials more money. Those folks do an amazing job and all they usually get is some pizza.
In retrospect, that's how those of us who were against the drug testing program should've framed our arguments: if you're for drug testing, you hate juniors and officials.
Of course, it's likely we won't need to make this argument next year; no one's going to suggest we throw another $12,000 at it next year. Right? Well, I'm not so sure. After all, this is Washington DC, land of empty promises.