• ceedee

    This cycling fan has lose faith. I was in two minds about watching Cadel Evan’s race, but once this news came through, I thought better of it. The sport is waste of space.

    • jules

      cheating is everywhere in life. your expectations are too high. it sucks and needs to be addressed – but there will always be cheating. you either learn to enjoy sport and deal with the cheating, or give up on it.

      some people spend their whole careers working hard and being passed over for a promotion for non-meritorious reasons. married 20 years only to discover their partner was cheating the whole time. life isn’t fair. sport isn’t special.

      • philipmcvey

        A pretty jaundiced view of the world, but fair enough. As soon as you offer incentives to do something you offer incentives for someone, somewhere, to do it by sidestepping hard work and talent. You can’t stop offering incentives for good performances – in life or sport – because some choose to take the wrong route to claim them. This is an impressionable young girl who has plenty of time left to pay back the debt she’s just created.
        I wonder if football, or athletics, or swimming fans go through this self-loathing every time someone is pulled up? All professional sport contains cheats because the rewards make cheating worth it. The bigger the reward the more sophisticated and systematic the cheating. The bigger the sport the more able it is to keep a lid on cheating allegations. Interesting that the biggest sport on the planet – soccer – never seems to throw up high profile drug cheats. It was rumoured that a certain Spanish football team was heavily implicated in Operation Puerto… and yet I don’t hear many of their fans calling the sport a waste of space.

        • jules

          That’s because they’ve been protected by Spanish authorities who seem determined to destroy the offending blood bags, that risk incriminating them. Cycling is lost and is happily offered up as a sacrificial lamb, but other major sports like football and teams that are national sources of pride earn protection from up high. In Spain – and in Australia.

          Maybe I’ve got a jaundiced view but when you start looking, you find evidence of corruption, vice, cheating and cover-ups under almost every leaf.

          • philipmcvey

            Oh I know precisely why a certain prominent club who play in a lovely pure white strip haven’t been called to account. There’s simply too much at stake and too many people with too much to lose. It’s like the bank that’s too big to fail. I agree; cycling is small enough to scapegoat. I’ve come to the conclusion over the last decade that you’re better to simply participate in the sport you love and do it honestly than to worry too much about what paid pros are up to.
            Well yes, jaundiced it may be, but it is justified.

          • ummm…

            yeah sure there is corruption everywhere. sooooo what is your plan of action?

      • ummm…

        this is true. however, it isn’t the cheating but the industry of lying, taking us for fools, price gouging, etc. We dont buy from the bix box consumer shops because we like their business model, we buy because it is cheap. sport we like to consume for more lofty reasons, and besides that (again) the way the fan is taken for a fool is pathetic. THe sport is pathetic. It is amateur. The riders are unorganized. The governing body and the organizers cant get it together. The sponsors are here one day and gone tomorrow. And with all of that we see people killing themselves, threatening each other, lying year after year. I agree life is not fair. Sport is not necessarily supposed to mirror life, but attempt to excel and reach high ideals. Just because the bosses son gets promoted does not mean that there are no more rules and we all give up. Clarity is nice. Either dope is legal or illegal. Im tired of being lied to.

    • David9482

      honestly, i’m thinking the same thing. I want to be done with cycling…. i’ve been a huge fan, but can’t take the thought of top racers using motors. it makes me sick to think about it. This is way worse than doping. It’s turning cycling from a sport to a motorsport.

      i haven’t checked out a race result since i heard this… normally i check the racing results every day but i don’t care to right now.

      • ummm…

        motors is more than pharmadoping?

  • jules

    there are better alternatives. why not suspend her, then make her return conditional on punitive financial contributions to efforts to detect mechanical doping?

    • philipmcvey

      I think you’re right. If we can allow that murderers, thieves and domestic abusers have the right to rehabilitation, redemption and the ability to ‘give back’ then it says very odd things about society that we’d not extend the same privilege to people who cheated at sport. The nature of this ‘offence’ means there’s no way she did this on her own – so are we also going to hand out lifetime bans to the mechanic, the management and her father? I can’t see why she should be shoulder all the burden of the blame.

      • Sean parker

        ‘f we can allow that murderers, thieves and domestic abusers have the
        right to rehabilitation, redemption and the ability to ‘give back’ then
        it says very odd things about society that we’d not extend the same
        privilege to people who cheated at sport.’

        Spot -on. I have no wish for sport rule breaker to be leniently hadled but they should be afforded the same proportional justice as any other employee who breaks an admin rule.

        • Dave

          Keeping it proportional would simply mean that normally the consequences would be restricted to those which affect the person’s sporting career. A life ban from a particular sport is still just a sporting penalty!

          Only when their cheating has effects outside of the sport should the consequences go further than sporting penalties. A good example of this is Lance Armstrong – if he had only cheated instead of going out to destroy anyone who got in his way, he would not be going through the court system at the moment.

          • Sean parker

            That’s true, if I did something to bring my employer or my profession into disrepute I could lose my job and my career.

            if the UCI want to enforce or impose administrative penalties that IS up to them, within the limits of natural justice.

            A life ban does seem disproportionate to me given the range of punishments for other comparable offences within the sport.

            The Lance thing is interesting – he is being prosecuted by the criminal court so it is tangential to this subject, although if I was prosecuted in a criminal court and found guilty the ramifications to me are losing my job and career. Even if it wasn’t work related.

            The confusion between sport and occupation does hinder logical discussion (at least in Australia) we have a case of a Rugby League player found to have been involved in a ‘lewd act’ with a dog. Commentators in the media have described his suspension from the game to be an ‘overreaction’ but they forget that this player is an employee of a multimillion dollar business with a reputation to protect. If an employee in any other high profile profession was found to have committed to have committed an act of lewdness with a dog there would be little to discuss.

            IN that sense life ban for the cyclist in question is not an overreaction (given that it has brought her employer and profession into disrepute – not to mention any code of ethics that a cyclist might have to sign up for) but it IS if it is disproportionate in comparison to punishments available for other like offences, so far as I am aware.

        • ummm…

          if a professional breaks a rule of the licensing authority he loses he license usually. no diff in cycling.

      • ummm…

        if a lawyer breaks the law, he loses his license. same for doctors etc.

    • Dave

      I would suggest a rehabilitation plan be contingent on her:

      – spilling the beans on everyone involved.
      – completing a university degree, and working without pay for World Bicycle Relief (Qhubeka) during the summer holidays.
      – holding a real job for at least a full year after she graduates.
      – two years of a probationary racing licence while still working, the first year at amateur domestic level and the second year at elite level with no eligibility for prizemoney or national team selection.
      – each stage of her return subject to the acceptance of the athletes she will be racing alongside

      That would add up to about 5-6 years – the same period out of cricket served by Mohammed Amir who was 18 years old when he accepted money for spot fixing.

    • H.E. Pennypacker

      Because this isn’t just about her. Not even close.

    • ummm…

      why not ban her and the chem dopers for life everytime?

  • Whammy

    Rubbish. A lifetime ban does not apply anywhere else in the long list of infringements an athlete in this, or any other sport may face, after a first offence. Would journalists advocate for the black listing of a colleague who plagiarised? I sincerely doubt it. The intensity of public shaming and ridicule, which will no doubt follow this case, is surely punishment enough. Let’s also bear in mind that it is quite likely many have already used such devices to secure much greater prizes than placing highly in an U-23 Cyclo-Cross world championships. Are we going to pursue others? Will we be suing the manufacturers of these devices? Again, unlikely. I think we should all just calm down a bit and let the investigation take it’s course, whilst also noting our biases when considering the severity of punishments, how we would view such positions were they to be directed towards ourselves or members of our in-groups, and that highly motivating base human instinct towards retribution and scapegoating, that blur our perspectives.

    • Mark Blackwell

      Well put. While the shame and ridicule will likely result in a lifetime ban of sorts, to think that this athlete should be banned from competing in a sport she probably dearly loves for LIFE is excessive. What about when she’s 30, 40 or 50 and just wants to have a bash around the course, to relive that old feeling of racing her bike… should she still be banned for what is clearly a very, very silly mistake made as a 19 yo?

      • Chris

        Perhaps if banned from cycling she could be free to pursue a career in another sport – like motorcycle racing?

        Seriously – “a very, very silly mistake” is a ridiculously light way to describe using a motorbike (let’s call a bike with a motor what it is) in cycling competition at the highest level.

        • jules

          I’ve argued this on here before: certain executives in a large bank have been found to have blatantly misappropriate investors’ funds for their personal gain. with a bit of sweeping under the carpet, these so called ‘captains of industry’ continue wearing expensive suits, driving luxury cars and otherwise swan around with the appearance of successful people. not the common thieves they really are.

          if you want to go on a moral crusade, there’s better places to start than the relatively trivial sport of competitive cycling.

          • Chris

            Yes, but that doesn’t make it right. I’d argue just as strongly for life time bans in that case too, given my visiting a banking and finance website. But I don’t, and we’re on a cycling website, so that’s what we’re discussing.
            Cheat – get caught – do some time – repeat. Great system.

            • jules

              Some time, sure. But that’s the issue – how much time? No one is saying she should be let off scot free.

              • Chris

                Fair enough. I think having a motor is a psychological tipping point for a lot of people, me included. You’re not so much bike racing anymore and, as tech develops, the motors will get more powerful, longer lasting and more quiet.
                Stop it here, the way doping might have been stopped with really strong action in the early 90s (maybe, whatever).
                Cheaters are gambling on rewards vs getting caught; raise the stakes, I say. Life ban? There are worse things in life than “getting a real job” and being someone who “could have been a great cyclist, but I rode a motorbike and got caught”.

            • Sean

              Also a 19 year old is more impressionable than say someone like Sagan or Cancellara. I think the real answer for what should the punishment be is, it depends.

          • SOPA_NOPA

            Why would you ever argue this on here? It has nothing to do with cycling.

            • jules

              Yes it does.

        • Mark Blackwell

          Characterising it as a silly mistake perhaps does undersell it a bit… it was downright stupid and perhaps even desperate. Neither of which should be punished with a LIFETIME ban, as punishment or deterrent, which is my real point.

          • Chris

            LIFETIME ban from bike racing? So what? It’s not her life that is over, she’s just not allowed to bike race.

      • Tim Rowe

        In any instance of rules or laws being broken, people are always quick to shout for massively overkill penalties. Of course, if the same were applied to them for a mistake or accident that occurred, you can bet they’d try argue against it and find it unfair.

        The point of punishments are supposed to be rehabilitation first, not retribution – even in sport. Calling for life bans when I guarantee, one day you’re going to get someone decides to re-interpret an edge-case of a rule and decide it applies to have someone banned for life – it’s stupid.

        • jules

          an example that springs to mind – arguably far fetched I’d concede – is the fan’s bike handed to Tyler Farrar. what if that had been fitted with a motor? :)

        • Bones

          Rehabilitation has NEVER been the point of punishment, go to any jail and you will NOT see a whole lot of rehab going on. The point of punishment is to remove the individual so they can not harm the non-criminals. Banning for life is the only credible option the UCI has for mechanical doping. With chemical doping one could rationalize that they are at a dis-advantage ie. genetically because they have a lower crit- so EPO is just evening the field. There is no rationalization for mechanical doping. So they need to be out of the sport for life, as well as their mechanics and anyone else with knowledge of this crime.

          If you want to have a clean sport, someone has to clean it up. As long as the new generation of cyclists see former dopers getting the big salaries and sponsorship deals, it will only encourage them to cheat as well. Set out a mnadate, anyone convicted of mechanical or chemical doping is gone for life. Otherwise the competition is just about as real as a reality show.

    • Dave

      Why should the manufacturers of the motors be sued when the only illicit use is when athletes ride them in races? Motor assist systems are a great way to make cycle commuting accessible to more people. Even the 55 W.hr laptop battery I have here would be excellent for allowing my dad to get an extra 110 watts of assistance on his way home from work up a big hill.

      It’s only the illegal use in racing which should be punished.

    • A

      Basically agree. If you level out lifetime bans one day someone innocent will receive one. Severe punishment requires strong proof.

    • Tim Rowe

      And in this instance the investigation still needs to occur on other claims. An outright lifetime ban in any instance where bikes can be swapped, for this offence, is lunacy. However it’s a damn good argument for removing spare bikes from the sport of cycling, which turns cycling at an amateur level in to an uneven playing field where the rich riders capable of not only owning but transporting multiple bikes around the country have a massive advantage. Right now with the rules being such that it can be seriously questioned who owns a bike – it sounds like even having an non-conforming bike in a teams facilities is grounds for a ban, which it utterly insane given the marketing and other aspects of the sport which go on at events.

  • Prestachuck

    Throw them out. Blood Dopers, mechanical dopers. Throw them all out forever.

    • jules

      to what end? there’s an endless supply of them if you choose to focus retrospectively on the symptom

      • Chris

        That’s just not true. There might be now, but lifetime bans will act as a deterrent. If it doesn’t for some people, who cares if they’re thrown out? Not me.

        • jules

          the point is – they aren’t the best form of deterrent. you’re using circular logic – that lifetime bans are the best deterrent as they are the most effective deterrent. there’s one problem..

          • Chris

            Go on…

            • jules

              go and read up on the US criminal justice and penal system. it’s based on your logic – they just lock everyone up for even minor crimes. they have a phenomenal rate of incarceration. it doesn’t stop crime. so they just ramp up the penalties even more. this is what happens when you insist on believing in something and its repeated failure leads you to reason “I just need to do even more of what I know will work”

              • Chris

                But it’s not. This is one crime, not a host of crimes that add up to three strikes or whatever. It doesn’t run into problems when people in poverty see drug dealing as a way out, etc ect.

                In your own words, cycle racing is “relatively trivial”. So why is exclusion from it such an extreme thing? Either it’s a big deal, and therefor we ought to have large penalties in place for cheating, or it’s trivial, and surely being excluded is trivial as well.

                • jules

                  first, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be harsh punishment – but that’s a wide spectrum.
                  secondly, it is arguably similar to poverty – some of these people (parents) sink their life savings in to supporting their kids’ sporting careers. cycling is trivial from a societal perspective is what I meant. but it’s not to some, or all of the elite participants. the difference between being selected on a pro team or not can to them be pivotal point in their lives. can you not see why they’d risk it all? it’s the same sort of circumstance with drug dealing – people find themselves cornered into difficult circumstances that breed poor decisions.

                  • Chris

                    All true – it’s a tough situation, and I get that “LIFE BANSSS!” is a big reaction from a stung community (who would have thought we could feel anything anymore?).
                    On the whole deal of families striving for their child to make it – I wonder what the name of the girl who missed out on national selection was.

                    • jules

                      I’d characterise it as – do want blood, or do you want to address the problem in a logical, systematic manner?

                      In criminal justice (and sporting tribunals) – there’s a lot of thirst for the blood option. the problem is, it doesn’t necessarily do much to curb the underlying issue.

              • Matt DeMaere

                Life in prison; the ethics, morality and fiscal rationalism, cannot picked up and plopped onto the notion of permanent suspension from a sport. They are very different things.

        • philipmcvey

          If that were true there would have been no new doping cases post Armstrong’s lifetime ban, because they’d have all been ‘deterred’. And yet, there have been many new doping cases since then. Just like there are loads of murders in US states with the death penalty. The finality of the penalty doesn’t really enter in to it if the lure of the reward is large enough. There should be hefty bans, but I don’t think you’re going to attract many new competitors to a sport by ruthlessly dumping youngsters who are pressurised in to doing something stupid by external forces. There’s an element of calculation about this kind of cheating that does make it worse, but then there’s no long term knock on effects to the health so in some ways it’s not as serious…

          • Chris

            Yeh, I think you’ll still run into people who think we’re not tough enough on dopers post Armstrong. The rewards are still outweighing the risks.
            The risks to who, though? “Youngsters being pressured” by teams aren’t the only ones we ought to go after. Unless there are repercussions to the teams, riders are expendable (as Jules perhaps alluded to on here with talk of treating ‘symptoms’).
            The counter argument then goes to talk of innocent people losing jobs if a team collapses, then we’re back to “too big to fail” or “too frail to fail” as it might be with the current state of teams in cycling. Big mess. Sucks to be in cycling.

            • philipmcvey

              You’ve made a really good point about the team. An offence like this almost certainly had to be facilitated by someone on the team. So, ban the team to make a point and thereby put a lot of presumably ‘innocent’ staff and cyclists out of a job or let the team off, ban the rider and let her take the fall? The definition of lose/lose. Of course the ideal is to find out who on the team is implicated and ban them and her. Which sounds easy in theory…

            • Bones

              It’s only a mess because it’s not properly dealt with. Solution is simple, have an amnesty- set a date, any positive tests past this date gets a lifetime ban. The risks HAVE to outweigh the benefits, it can’t be close, the penalties need to be severe to change the culture. Society changes and with that, what is acceptable changes as well. Twenty years ago it was acceptable for bank tellers to smoke, now it is not. Change is possible but it takes courage.

          • ianot

            Agreed Philip. I always struggle with the question “would I want my kid competing at an elite level in this sport?”. From that point of view I think doping is worse – cheating combined with long term health risks. An error of judgement can have much more serious impacts when it comes to doping. Punishments should be severe in both cases, but lets not forget the health aspects of doping.

          • Bones

            I’d argue that many kids are NOT getting into the sport because of the current and past climate of doping. Any moderately intelligent parent would realize that their child WILL have to make the doping decision at some point in their career. Why not make it for them? Why not let them know that if they dope, and therefore anyone they compete against dopes, they are gone. As long as you have the likes of Contador/ Valverde and other dopers still in the peloton commanding big salaries, you are going to encourage doping. It is really not that complicated. Comparing it to a judicial system is ludicrous, competing in professional sport is a privilege NOT a right.

  • Robert Merkel

    I agree that this is a very severe form of cheating, and a very severe penalty is justified (assuming her defence is as ridiculous as it appears on the surface). It’s up there with EPO. However, as a matter of princple, I disagree with automatic life bans (where there is no possiblility of the equivalent of “parole”).

    Mandatory sentencing – in any context – is bad policy. It leads to absurdities like Gary Ewing, who died in prison serving a 25-to-life sentence for attempting to shoplift three golf clubs.

    Furthermore, the assumption that harsher penalties deter crime is not well founded on evidence. In short, while it might make us feel better, longer bans aren’t necessarily going to work. What does work is confidence that cheaters will be detected.

    • CB

      Second that. The response to this story has been distinctive in terms of it’s naivety with regards to these two points. Two points with established evidence bases to support them.

    • philipmcvey

      Robert that is spot on. If you agree with dumping people from sport for EVER then you presumably also agree with taking people off the street permanently for crimes. All that does is up the ante for cheats and criminals – if they know they’re risking everything they just get better at cheating or covering crimes. As unpalatable as it may seem we need to engage with cheats to stop others cheating; after all who knows the mechanics of cheating better than a cheat?

      • Rodrigo Diaz

        No, that’s an illogical sequitur and a very strong presumption. Incarceration and legal right losses from the criminal system are much higher than those from a bicycle race. In other words, the onus for demonstrating the need for the death penalty/automatic life in prison are so high and the risks so big that society can be said to reasonably not be able to afford them.

        But other, less transcendental rights and privileges? Sure we can.

        When engineers behave negligently and/or unethically, they lose their licence (I am one and know this for a fact), sometimes temporarily and sometimes permanently. They don’t necessarily go to jail, but they can’t do engineering work. They can feel free to work as bike mechanics, opera singers, burger flippers or whatever other profession that will have them.

        When lawyers are corrupt they get disbarred – same thing, they are no longer able to present themselves as attorneys and be recognized as legal counselors. They can still go and work in construction, serve tables, or heck – do engineering or finances if they have the qualifications.

        When doctors behave unethically (say by supplying EPO) they can lose their licence to practice. I would say I’m ok with that, or for issues such as sexual misconduct, patient abuse or fraud. The former doctor can go and do other things with his/her life.

        Or a more pedestrian example: a driver constantly is negligent behind the wheel, being careless, driving after a few drinks, a few minor crashes and complaints. No casualties (yet), just a few little things, speeding, etc. After the 10th stop and second violation of the probation I’m pretty sure this person can be reasonably be stripped of the privilege of driving.

        We often confuse rights and privileges – the former are easily referenced in the human right charters. Making a living by riding your bike around is bound by a set of rules and conventions beyond legal requisites, because the whole thing operates on a system of trust (you trust the bike rider not to use a motor, you trust the tennis player not to fix a match, you trust the timekeepers to fairly track the times in a TT, you trust the ref not to award ghost penalties, you trust FIFA officials not to take bribes to award hosting rights). Losing these privileges is nowhere near as costly to society as the loss of basic human rights. Making a living by riding your bike in circles is not a basic human right. And so the burden of proof for losing these privileges is much smaller. Which is the same as with a normal civil trial – you go from “preponderance of evidence” needed to the much higher “beyond reasonable doubt” used in criminal cases.

        • warnschild

          I like that string of argumentation.

          I personally see no reasonn why there should be made any difference in the way one is treated whatever means of cheating he oder she choses. It’s always neccessary to “get a fair trial” though.

          On the other hand, I’m not sure about lifetime bans. Maybe, it would be “enough” to force riders to start with a very basic licence and stay at that level for so-and-so-long before they can step back up to elite licences again? Or sth. like that?…

          With regards to mechanical fraud, it would be an easy thing for another person to manipulate a bike to get rid of competition, probably much more of an issue than with substance doping maybe? – It seems a bit strange that this should have happened exactly at the very first race were UCI have announced new testing methods as well as testing of womens’ bikes also.

          • philipmcvey

            That’s a point that’s been nagging away at me – how easy it would be to sabotage a rival by propping a bike just like theirs in a convenient place. I don’t think that’s what happened here; she admits to having owned the bike, but it is possible. To look at it another way perhaps it’s because the UCI announced the test that she wasn’t actually riding the bike. Maybe she intended to but got cold feet?

            • warnschild

              Well, that’s a possibility at least, that’s true. Also, it will be rather impossible to prove the facts, one way or the other. As with other forms of doping, probably.

              On the other hand, I somehow refuse to give in to the tendency to treating and thinking of mechanical doping (and a possible sabotage act that is way too often claimed for in substance abuse cases) as different either in their impact to the sport’s credibility or with regard to whatever motivates encourages people to act that way.

              To me, it’s neither a valid argument to base that jugdement on the lack of proof in the past (with regards to EPO doping, for example) nor on the legal difference that – as to now – has to be made. Also, I don’t think the argument “there’ll always be dopers” will help.

              But I don’t know what to think about “lifelong ban” or not.

              • philipmcvey

                You’re right. Using a motor gives an unfair advantage, using EPO gives an unfair advantage and jumping a train as a rider in 1903 does too. The means isn’t the thing – it’s the fact you’ve put everyone else in the race at a disadvantage. So, treat them the same way. There are two glaring differences between this and doping; 1) there are no adverse health effects for the rider using a motor, no heart attacks and no young riders being pressurised in to using something which may take years off their lives.. and 2) there was always the chance of a doper going off the map and doing his own thing (just read Hamilton’s book) but getting a working motor in to a bike involves a whole lot of systematic planning and help.

                I’m against a lifetime ban for an under 23’s first offence. We’ve all been young and easily influenced. I think she should be given the option to make a full confession and take two years out, or prove she didn’t do it, or be sidelined for as long as it takes for her to tell the truth and name names.

                • warnschild

                  Thank you for eplaining your opinion further, that’s interesting really.

                  I see the importance of preventing people from harming themselves – so a certain extent. Over here, that’s the official (and only acceptable) argument for taking people to hospital/into psychiatrical care against their will.

                  On the other hand, I cannot see any reason why with regards to competitive disadvantages and preassure on other riders, mechanical doping should be any different to conventional means of doping: It always depends on the means available and probably also, offered, to the rider, on his financial situation (in some cases resulting in even more preassure), ….

                  Also, these are the factores deciding on how well he manages doping, be it mechanical or not: The more people, money and planning envolved, the better the system evolving around the rider(s) in question, the later they’ll probably get caught (if so), and the less reasons for me to see any difference with regard to penalties.

                  Also, I think that riders who dope conventionally risking their lives, would probably go for mechanical doping if they could or saw a personal advantage in it. They’d go for anything that seems to help.

                  So why punish people for not being able to build up an Armstrong-like-efficient doping army around them. Don’t we – very probably – do that anyways by not catching those who know how to do it?

                  Hence, I’m still at the “treat them all the same” line.

                  The U23-exception seems somewhat fair and good to me; but there should be sth. comparable to “community service”, like with young delinquants. Sth. that takes them out of business and makes them think (or at least helps them with that process).

        • philipmcvey

          Thanks Rodrigo.. a very good post. You are right – the analogy I drew is not as good as your analogy of a corrupt lawyer or a criminally negligent engineer. Well played. The examples are good except for the driver who requires umpteen offences to be taken out of the game.. by that rationale cyclists should have more than one chance. To nit pick a driver is the polar opposite of a ‘pedestrian’ :)

          I like your argument a lot, but it’s circular in a sense. If cycling in circles isn’t as important as, say, not stealing from your employer – and I’d agree – then why does the penalty have to be so harsh? If the rules are not bound up in human rights and are actually a set of arcane inventions from a committee in Switzerland then how do we reference what’s a fair punishment?

          I’m not a great fan of the idea that sportspeople should be role models for the young or that sport is a microcosm from which the young can learn ethics. But like it or not that’s the way it is for many kids; they understand the world through sport. I think it’s a useful lesson for the young that being caught cheating has two elements; first punishment, then rehabilitation. I think it sends a poor message to cast sportspeople out for a first offence. Ban them for a long time by all means, but for a first offence it seems disproportionate to remove them altogether. Basically, I’m against any permanent punishment for any non-criminal first offence.

          Oh and as a lifelong football fan I have ceased to trust FIFA on anything at all :)

          • Rodrigo Diaz

            Agreed – my statement is not complete above. The suspension I propose is not permanent and irrevocable – there is a rehabilitation plausible through cooperation with inquiries, social work, etc. The chance, however, should be slim since the privilege of riding a bike for a living is scarcely limiting of human rights – you “earn” it through good conduct. Presumably, all of us that race are in “good standing” until proven otherwise.

            In my opinion the penalty is not that harsh in life terms – it’s like being expelled from a club (club of pro bike racers). There is no life and limb being lost. I do agree that what’s fair is completely arbitrary and setup (hopefully fairly) by the governing bodies. So I would in this case refer to other blatant cases of professional cheating – what is the penalty for tennis/cricket/etc. players that fix matches? For car racing teams that add nitro to the fuel mix? For cheating lawyers and financial auditors in a civil suit (the criminal is circumscribed by a different authority, if appropriate). Maybe not a doctor or an engineer, when those guy cheat people actually die. If I had my way, penalties for motorized cheating (and major doping e.g. EPO) would be 8 years for the athlete, life for the enablers (coaches, mechanics, doctors). You can reduce that to 4 for the athlete and 8 for the enablers for full cooperation. Maybe a bit more in extenuating circumstances, but I like them to skip at least one olympic cycle.

            And to nitpick on the nitpick, the pedestrian reference meant going on a very basic, very ubiquitous example to describe the logic chain. I do not agree that we should be so lenient with negligent drivers, but where I live we are.

            • philipmcvey

              That’s some very good reasoning right there. Particularly in this case – with such a young person and a first offence – the enablers should have the book thrown at them with great force. Every ex-doper’s book makes it clear that it’s the downward force applied by management that helps turn them to cheating, and until we start booting these people out of the game altogether we’re not going to get any lasting change.

              In terms of other sports two Pakistani text cricketers have just returned to the game after four year bans for spot fixing. The interesting thing in that case it that you have a very young fast bowler and a much older captain who both received the same ban. In football (the round ball variety) Juventus were found guilty of match fixing a few years ago and their punishment was simply having a bunch of points docked for a couple of years and a whacking big fine. From memory the players themselves continued to pick up a hefty pay cheque or moved to other clubs for even more money. There were certainly no permanent bans.

              I knew what you meant with pedestrian :) It was a joke, based on the fact pedestrian literally means ‘person on foot’ and that’s the opposite of ‘person behind the wheel of large automobile’.

              • warnschild

                Thank you for your posts @disqus_sQYbfGwKwM:disqus. I like that you compare penalties with legal acts taking away privileges from people.

                Nevertheless, we often forget that some people involved in doping stem from countries where a sports career is “the one way out”. There are people like Armstrong and many others who simply want and need to win for whatever reason, and others who join them without thinking not seeing anything in their life but cycling, and nothing to define their self but victory after victory. Also, though, there must be many others who really need the money, who need to stay in the game. Therefore, the club metaphore doesn’t work in my opinion. – On the other hand, that’s another strong point for aiming at the puppet players in the backround, and put much more – legal – preassure on team managers and national accociations.

                I like the case of that British guy who has to work himself up again through the various licence levels after receiving a ban for doping. It might not be nice for others to ride against a former pro, that’s true; but it will be equally hard for him to get along with them and carry the burden he brought himself into. So that would be some kind of suitable educational measure, maybe?

    • Adam Fuller

      Neither of your examples apply here:
      1. That’s some sort of multiple crime policy, not a mandatory for a specific crime.
      2. Penalties do work when there is thought that goes into the crime, ie white collar crime.

      • Robert Merkel

        Would you like more cases of mandatory sentencing leading to manifestly excessive punishments for relatively small-time, non-violent crime? Try this, for a start. However, this is starting to get really offtopic.
        As for your second proposition, while it’s intuitively appealing, do you have any evidence to back it up?

      • philipmcvey

        Mmm… OK, so there’s no white collar crime now that there are penalties applied and people have time to think about their actions? Would you consider Armstrong’s doping as a white collar crime? He knew the penalties – it just made him a lot more focused on developing systems to avoid being caught.

        I’d love to see the evidence that shows harsh penalties have reduced white collar crime. Then I’d like to see how many prosecutions resulted from the criminal activities of Wall Street bankers leading up to the crash. More time to think means more time to develop strategies to evade prosecution.

        • warnschild

          That’s a good point: What do team managers when facing ultra-hard penalties no matter why their riders dope? Would that help prevent doping? What if any rider being brought into connection with any kind of doping would face a life-long ban? Would that help?

          Are there examples – in politics, economy, societies – where such measures have actually worked? Cycling is not to be compared to the total of a society, that for sure. So the death-penalty-doesn’t-stop-crime argument to me does not seem to be valid. So when doctors, lawyers and so on, face to lose their licences, does that make them act more responsibly?

    • jules

      this. it’s partly due to the concept (or theory?) of bounded rationality – the limitations on how people are able to weigh up the consequences of their actions. the theory is that at some point, people become unable to effectively account for the consequences. as you said, it’s been observed that people are better at accounting for probability of detection than severity of consequences. essentially, if they believe they can get away with something, they rationalise that the consequences are of no consequence.

      • philipmcvey

        How many forums on sporting websites can double up as an impromptu lecture in Ethics 101? Love it.

        • CB

          Bounded rationality would perhaps then negate the argument regarding tougher penalties, and place the onus back upon the effectiveness and sophistication of methods of detection? In this case, as mentioned also in the GCN clip on this matter, the UCI now use an app on a tablet or smart phone device (supposedly how this mechanically doped bike was discovered) that can detect hidden motors by simply scanning the bikes. By all means have sanctions for contravening the rules, but with such an easy, cost-effective method of detection, already in use it seems the battle against this form of cheating may already be won.

          • warnschild

            I love the chain of argument. Don’t agree with your final sentence: The fight will never be won. As with fatal illness, crime and world piece.

      • ArthurVandelay

        Very good points thank you. Brings up a whole new view on cheating in multiple areas: Cheating on exams, “fudging” ones taxes, doping for purely amateur events, etc. Gives us a lot to think about.

    • MK

      I agree with Robert, that in principle mandatory sentencing is a bad policy. Those that hear a case must have some discretion around the penalty. In the specific example of a motor in a bike, 6 months is too short (far too short) and lifetime is too long. I’m not sure what the correct number is. Probably 4-6 years, which is essentially a life ban from professional sport.

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  • martin

    I think the repercussions from within cycling for someone found with a motor might even be harsher than for a rider than if they’d doped, so an official lifetime ban (or any ban for that matter) probably won’t be necessary. There’s no shortage of ex-dopers getting contracts on and off the bike but I can’t see anyone wanting to associate with anyone that would have cheated in this way. I’m not advocating doping in any way but I think this will expose a weird double standard.

  • Nitro

    I see both sides of the argument on this one (a) Ban for life = the ultimate risk = the ultimate deterrent and (b) Does what could be “a silly mistake” warrant an immediate lifetime ban?

    I don’t know the answer – but I do know that the UCI needs to do WHATEVER IT TAKES – to try to make sure that this NEVER happens again…

    I know I’ll probably be accused (probably rightly so) of being naïve – and that people will always try to find ways to cheat…

    I just know though that just as the thought of one of my kids asking me “Daddy – Cyclists keep getting caught using drugs – You ride your bike a lot – does that mean you take drugs?” sends chills down my spine, the prospect of similar questions in relation to electric motors scares me the same way…

    • Chris

      We need to stop calling this “a silly mistake”.

      • philipmcvey

        I agree in part – but perhaps her ‘silly mistake’ wasn’t cheating but instead listening to all the people around her telling her that it’s fine to cheat. As long as every other participant cops a hefty ban I’m fine with her being booted from the sport for a long time.

        • Chris

          I’d love to think she’ll spill the beans on “all the people” and something big would happen.

          • philipmcvey

            My point exactly. Not a lot will be achieved by banning her and letting the team management and staff continue running as per usual. If the idea of a life ban has any use it’s as a means of getting some beans spilled.

            • Dave

              Exactly.

              If she spills the beans on everyone and this can be verified, cut it back to:
              a five year suspension,
              a whopping fine,
              return to the sport only allowed if she completes a university degree or holds a real job for at least three years,
              infinite probation once returned,
              an allowance for any race organiser to veto her entry if they deem that reasonable.

              Otherwise, life ban.

              • philipmcvey

                Ha.. well, that’s exactly what I’d have said if I’d thought it through properly.
                I particularly like the bit about working for three years – that’s an experience where she may learn some values outside of those imparted upon her by the ‘role models’ in her family.

                • Dave

                  I would also add that each stage of her return would need to be approved by a strong majority vote of the riders she would be racing with.

                  If they don’t feel ready to accept her back into their ranks, the life ban should stand.

                  • philipmcvey

                    You just knocked it out of the park with that one. It seems to me that not enough is made of the impact on the people who are being cheated – i.e. the other riders. The convicted cheat’s peers should have the last word, and if the rest of the field don’t want to race with them, the team or the UCI will pull them soon enough.

                    • warnschild

                      That’s an interesting point: I know about ex-dopers (amateurs) who were told by race organisers from local races that they were expressly not wanted (I hope that English espression is right in the context?) to take part in the race though their ban for doping had expired. Also, people told me that the field makes races extra-hard for ex-dopers and that they are even confronted at the startline by some. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for some for whatever reason.

              • ebbe

                You do realise you’re now demanding she spill the beans on her own father that she (as a 19 year old girl) lives with, quite likely the exact same father that pressured her into the sport in the first place, put a lot of time and money into her career (= more pressure), and also pressured her into the (alleged?) cheating? So her choice now becomes: “I either rat out my father for pressuring me to cheat, or I disappoint him and throw away all the effort he has put into my career by never racing again”. That’s not a choice anybody should be asked to make, especially a 19 years old girl form a cycling crazy country.

                You might want to google-translate and read this article by a recently retired Dutch pro: http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/13948/Marijn-de-vries/article/detail/4236055/2016/02/01/Ik-ben-boos-maar-niet-op-Femke-Van-den-Driessche.dhtml – And don’t skip over the part where she mentions the suicide attempt by a young Belgian rider, who was “caught doping”.

                • Rodrigo Diaz

                  We are not demanding anything. You can’t legally coerce it. However, you can state those as conditions for reinstatement.

                  You’re simply stating the circumstances for a reduction in the penalty. It’s, like everything else, a negotiation. You may think that’s a heavy onus on her, and her family. So what is the right compensation for the competitor that didn’t make the U23 team because she couldn’t fly up the Koppenberg? Did the Belgian Federation try to pull up a fast one? Did the rest of her team? Look at it from the perspective of more famous road teams – Do you think we would be better off with having the beans on Pellizotti’s doping, or should Gianni Savio be able to keep skating the bans feigning ignorance on the systemic doping under his guidance?

                  A key aspect of civil liability (this is not criminal) is “making the damaged parties whole”. How do you propose this could be done? At the very least I’d say naming the rest involved enabling parties so that they can shoulder their responsibility as well.

                  • ebbe

                    No, you’re trying to derail my comment now by reframing it, which is not fair. The point was never: Shared responsibility = shared blame = reduced sentence, as you’re suggesting. The point is: In your proposed solution (spilling the beans), you’ve completely ignored the fact that this is not spilling the beans on just anybody. Given your proposed ‘deal’, whatever decision she would make she would be forced (yes “forced”, and yes, in that scenario “demanding” is the proper terminology, but we can also use “asking” if you want) to either rat out or to severely disappoint (which is sort of the same thing) her father, who she lives with this very day and feels a moral obligation towards. Not just any coach, trainer or mechanic, but her father. Did you even read the linked article I suggested you read? Being a “trophy kid” is not easy. These kids don’t do it for the sport, but for the parents. Read the article, and take some time let it sink in that a young Belgian rider has tried to actually commit suicide in a similar case… While he was innocent!

                    In a way, she might be best off with a life time ban (which I’m not sure I should be anti of pro), but I must say I don’t see how that helps any of the “damaged parties”. Nor would spilling the beans on her father or anybody else help the “damaged parties”. Striking her results and redistributing prize money might do a better job at compensating, don’t you think? Or, give her the opportunity to have a conversation with the other athletes, without fathers, camera’s or officials present: Athlete to athlete, no reports of the conversation, no reason to lie. That would probably bring more closure for all parties than “an eye for an eye” ever could.

                    Of course, we still have to wait and see if she is actually found guilty in the investigation. The scenario painted by her father, however incredible it may sound, has not yet been disproven. I appreciate Australia is a bit behind on facts because of the time difference, but please realise new “facts” keep popping up almost on an hourly basis. For instance: The name and telephone number of the alleged owner of the bike (in the father’s scenario) have already been handed over to Belgian press. People are now finally starting to realise that it’s not that different to discern between last year’s bike (supports the father’s scenario) and this year’s bike (negates the father’s scenario): Same make and model bike, but have look at the color of the cable housings: Dark for last year, bright green for this year – see for yourself in the Koppenberg video: Green cables. Also, other athletes have confirmed to have pictures of the motorized bike, and they say it’s very obvious that it’s “different” because it has a bulkier downtube. These are all pieces of a puzzle that can be easily checked by officials. After all, the UCI has seized the motorized bike. So we’re currently at a point where we, as outsiders, have relatively little actual factual “proof” (in a legal sense), except for the fact that this case will surely develop further in the comings days. Oh, and by the way: In Belgium, doping does fall under criminal law. Rest assured the facts will be scrutinized, but not by us ;-)

                    Anyway, now I’m deviating from the original point as well ;-) Which was: Asking (asking, demanding, whatever you want) a girl (young woman, whatever you want) to make a choice between ratting out a parent or shattering the dreams of that parent is genuinely one of the most inhumane things you could do in this case, or any case. A plain and simple life-time ban without that “option” would be preferable by far, at least then the father will divert blame to the authorities and not to her. You could even let the competing athletes have a say in which punishment is appropriate, if you’re really concerned with that aspect. But don’t put that pressure on her unless you want to destroy a 19 year old girl (or woman). Let the father blame the authorities, the UCI, the competition, the coaches, the mechanics, anybody but his daughter, for destroying his dreams. Any solution would be preferable to your proposed solution. Let the authorities (again: criminal case in Belgium) do their work to find out what happened exactly. I certainly don’t have enough facts to draw any real conclusions at this stage, neither do you, and neither does Cyclingtips.

                    • Rodrigo Diaz

                      The principle of clemency is fine. But not of impunity or charity towards a cheater and the people that supported and enabled her cheating.. Basically, you’re defending omerta. Which is perfectly understandable on a personal relationship basis but in this case it needs to be balanced with fairness to the other participants in bike racing.

                      So, what do you think the preferred solution would be for G. Jeanson? It was not any guy that enabled her doping, it was her lover! How could she possibly be expected to denounce him? Or her enabling family? What about your best friend? Your team mates? As of her last interview she seems to have made peace with this, even making a living outside cycling. Not happy about it, but at least come to terms. And whether she ever races again should in no way enable her old coach to ever coach again. And heck yeah, being a trophy kid was hard for her, going to the Olympics and everything and disappointing everyone. How do you think Lynne Bessette felt about being chased down by her and losing a win, extra sponsorship and maybe the chance to go to the Olympics? How can she be compensated?There’s a an opportunity cost here that can hardly be repaid. If you find a good way to do so let’s please adopt it.
                      The cable housing you mention is a joke – it’s CX. They can get regularly changed after one single messy race. The rest of the things are a different item – you don’t want her to be punished without proof. Neither do I. But that was not your discussion originally – it was whether it was fair to make disclosure of accomplices part of the terms for ban reduction. It totally is – that’s how you weed out dodgy doctors and coaches. Ask coach Aubut and Dr. Duquette if they can be employed again by Cycling Canada.

                      One more point – cheating in a bike race is not a criminal offence in most countries. Sure, there’s some sporting fraud legislation but in general the big deterrent is disqualification from sport, not jail time. So whatever happens in Belgium regarding her criminal liabilities is independent of what the UCI should do when presented with cheating. Please don’t confound the issues.

                    • ebbe

                      No, you’re misrepresenting what I’ve said *again*. I’m not advocating reducing sentences, clemency, omerta or anything like that. I’m saying: Don’t ask a young woman who is already under a lot of pressure from her father to rat out that father. Yes, please perform a proper investigation (UCI and Belgian authorities, you were the one confusing the two not me), yes please find out exactly what happend and what the role of the “entourage” was. Yes, please take further actions to prevent others from doing this. And yes, find an appropriate sanction against all parties responsible, including her and the father. But make sure it’s appropriate: Damaging her relationship with her father is never appropriate, and can lead to very serious problems that literally nobody, not even the most fundamentalist fair-play advocate, wants. Case in point: The near suicide case you’re afraid to comment on. I can’t make it more clear than that.

                      You really should read what I’ve written and respond to that, not respond to what you think I’ve written or respond to the opposite of your own opinion. Read to understand, not to reply. Another case in point: In Belgium doping is a criminal case. That’s a fact. Period. No need to discuss that. No need to bring up how this is in other countries. No need to counter that argument with a UCI investigation, which I’ve never discounted. Another: She’s been riding with green cables on her main bikes all season, fact. If you cheat and don’t want to get caught, you make sure your cheat-bike is as close to the other bikes as possible. You would never change the matching green cables to dark ones only in the World Championships if you want your cheat-bike to stay under the radar. Different cables, or the massive down tube (which I also mentioned, but you’re leaving out conveniently, you’re cherry picking) that people that have seen (photos of) the bike report, are easily spotted on footage. I’ve told you a few facts that you did not know, since you are behind due to the time difference. Just accept them as helpful facts and wait to see what the investigation digs up. The confiscated bike might indeed have a massive downtube. If no video footage shows her riding a bike with a massive downtube in a race, then there is no proof left of her using that bike in a race. That’s just how it is, be happy you’ve learned something more than is stated in the article. Please stop making more out of it.

                      When and if she (and her entourage) were actually planning to cheat (with proof), something needs to be done for sure. Sanctions are also needed for sure. But the punishment should fit not only the crime, but also the criminal, as it would in any courthouse and with any judge in any developed country. Damning the relationship with her father is not a fitting punishment, it never is. There is a very good reason Europe does not allow forcing somebody to testify against a direct family member (Note: The imperative being it is a family member. A coach or team mate is a different story). She legally has every right to just say: “No, I will not testify against my father”, without any repercussions. Even the UCI is obliged to follow these laws, since the “crime” took place in Belgium and European laws always supersede UCI regulations. Plus, it probably won’t do anybody, including the competitors that you’re rightfully worried about as am I, any good either. Moreover: There’s no need to even ask her. It’s already perfectly clear that you need a mechanic to install a motor. They’ve already named the person that installed the motor (or had it installed), which is not illegal by the way. It’s clear where you can buy the hardware legally (anywhere, basically). It’s abundantly clear the father would definitely be in on it of they were planning to cheat. Asking her to spill the beans on the Belgian national team or her trade team (if involved) is even fine by me, I’ve never made an issue about that. She already spilled the beans on the alleged “brother’s friend”. That’s also fine by me.

                      But all that you would achieve by putting this much pressure on spilling the beans on her father (that’s what the discussion is about after all: The father) is push other trophy kids to also cheat in order to get closer to their parents. The fact that you mention other tragic cases where this weighing of circumstances in the investigation and/or the punishment should have been done better only supports my point ;-) I don’t know the details, but assuming they are similar I would argue the exact same in the other cases you’ve mentioned: You can not coerce (which is what you’re doing if you’re exchanging it for a reduction in punishment) anybody to rat out a close family member. That’s morally wrong, and (for that reason) not allowed in Europe. It should also not have happened in the cases you mention. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Nor do three or four.

                    • Rodrigo Diaz

                      If you don’t offer a reduction of sentence based on testimony, then there is simply no argument. The UCI establishes strict liability here – the bike doesn’t need to be ridden, no intent to cheat proof is needed either. The bike simply needs to be in the pit for a cheating offence to be raised, with the penalties clearly establishing a lower-boundary of 6 months suspension and a fine, though no maximum is prescribed. But I will raise you one – I don’t even know if her dad is involved. Neither do you. I am merely stating that an athlete should have the chance of offering testimony in exchange for a reduction in sanctions.

                      If you don’t want to offer a reduction of a suspension in exchange for testimony – I understand but disagree. You can certainly not upscale the penalty here – that’s not what we’re discussing. So if you don’t want to incriminate anyone any further that’s ok. But you don’t get the benefits of disclosure which could include a reduction in the suspension. You are trying to limit the discussion to this girl on this bike on this team under this nation under these conditions.Which is why you insist so much on the “Belgian law”. I am trying to put it in the context of international sporting regulation – which is why I’m taking the position of what the UCI should do. I am not Belgian and unfamiliar with their sporting fraud legislation and criminal ramifications which are extaneous and additional to whatever the UCI (i.e. a civil case) would do.

                      The boundaries between coercion and cooperation are hard to define. Is offering reduced punishment a coercive mean, or means to further cooperation? She’s not forced to say anything. In fact, in her case I’d wait and see what her sanctions are to determine rationally what she should do. For instance – 6 month suspension is trivial at the end of CX season (the minimum). Or whatever the guys in the Lance Armstrong file had (3-6 months in the offseason plus loss of results?) Which is why in criminal law you can always “plead the fifth” so to speak – but you don’t get any privileges for doing so. The issue is I don’t even know if her father is at guilt here – you’re already assuming his culpability. I want her to have the opportunity to disclose the conditions of her alleged cheating to a) assign responsibilities in a fair manner b) learn from these conditions in order to provide disincentive and c) try to promote a fair system (which includes restricting cheaters from the privilege of competing).

                    • ebbe

                      Paragraph one: Mostly agree, and does not negate anything I’ve said

                      Paragraph two: Since I am in fact in Europe a few 100 kms aways from the Belgian border, know a thing or two about the law here, and have a head start regarding facts due to the time difference, it might be better to go with my assessment here? ;-) And again: European *always* laws supersede UCI regulations, which also means UCI can *never* do anything that is against European law (when the “crime” has been committed anywhere in Europe of course). Never. What the UCI “should do” is irrelevant, if it is against European law. Also: Anybody the is involved in a UCI investigation (regarding a case in Europe) can always fall back to their rights under European law. Always.

                      Paragraph 3: Please read my final paragraph again. It’s about the *father*. Any argument that you make which does not include the plain and simple fact that my point is about the father, and only the father (actually, I should make that: “The family”), is moot. I’ve repeated several times that it’s fine by me to ask her to testify against (this is merely an example!) the Belgian coach if he has played a role in this case. I would even encourage her to do so (not that I have any influence, but you get the idea). I’ve also made it clear that she’s already given up the name of the person that installed the motor. I have absolutely no issue with that either. My point has been about the father (now: the family) since the beginning. Go ahead and read all my previous comments. But this time read them as they are, not as what you think they are.

                      About the father: Yes I’m assuming he is in on it. Ok, that might be premature, I’ll give you that. But if you’re read the reports about the guy in the (Dutch and) Belgian media you would surely feel the same, I guarantee! ;-) Anyway, even that is besides the point: I’m saying she can not be forced (or any other word you want to use) to testify against him. Of course, if she wants to testify in his defence, that’s up to her.

                      Conclusion: Asking somebody to rat out their family members is morally wrong. And you always have the legal right to refuse, without ramifications, or promises of leniency, or scare tactics threatening severity. The UCI might make an beautiful offer to do so, but (this is also something that might be different in Europe), that’s actually not really that relevant. She could always go to the national or European court if she feels the punishment is too severe or that she has provided enough cooperation. If the Belgian or European judge agrees with her (and they likely will concerning the father, but only the father), the UCI has to comply, or appeal. UCI does not have the final say, they are not a legal entity in that sense. The athlete can always decides to either accept the UCI sanctions (Michael Boogerd is a recent example) or fight the UCI sanctions in an actual real court of law (Roberto Heras is an example). Case closed ;-)

                      I’m happy to have discussed this with you, but to be honest I think we’ve exhausted this topic of fathers and trophy kids by now. If you’re ever in the Netherlands let me know and we’ll go for a ride around flatland!

                    • Tim Rowe

                      Something that hasn’t been raised here is that this was a World Championship event, where riders are entered as part of a team. Or they’re supposed to be. Not six or however many riders doing their own thing. The Belgian federation needs to investigate this, as had they been properly looking after their riders as a *team*, they would have been all over this.

                    • ebbe

                      It’s much worse: The Belgian national coach dropper her like a hot potato immediately following the first rumours, without waiting for any fact to be released and without even talking to her in person. He “kicked her out” straight away (while she had actually already left the riders area, since her race was over). I found it quite peculiar, but let’s not speculate on the reasons why.

                  • warnschild

                    That brings up another subject: Fairness with regard to getting on the (national) team. In our country, many riders stop when they reach the elite levels. One hard year due to finishing school, the body not developping as quickly as the others within the age group or sth. comparable, and they are out of the squad they often spent their whole life with and for. I understand very well that not every one can make it on the team. But it’s simply not fair when young people are pushed to give up everything (often not even get the chance to get to know alternatives and decide upon them), and then be left alone when success won’t show immediately and constantly. Not off-topic, no, in my opinion it might be the very base for doping in the first place for many cases.

                    And yes, very often, a complete family organizes their lives around the child in question. Often, the family’s reputation is even based on their child’s success. That’s another problem.

                    Another “root reason” is that, at least here in my country, many trainers, team managers and officials at the Cycling Accociation have well-known reputations of doping in their own past. In my opinion, all that: “we didn’t know better back then”/”everyone was involved in that”/”There was no chance to win without it”/”it was the way back then” and so on does not provide a moral base for the future: Culture/ways of thinking/personal attitudes are automatically handed over to future generations, in a way that might not even be consciously represented in the minds of all parties involved. So that’s some very serious aspect of handing over heavy burdens….

                • H.E. Pennypacker

                  And?

              • Rodrigo Diaz

                I think that was the idea behind WADA latitude when dispensing punishment for doping- if someone cooperates “fully” (whatever that meant) with the investigation they’d get a reduced sentence. So yeah, I agree with this.

                • Dave

                  I was thinking more of the process which brought Mohammed Amir back to cricket after his ban for spot fixing in the 2010 Lord’s Test, rather than the WADA Code which doesn’t go into detail on rehabilitation.

                  WADA allow a 50% reduction for a guilty plea and cooperation with the process, and a 75% reduction for that plus supplying information that helps secure other sanctions. This is how the US riders who testified against LA got their two year suspensions discounted to six months.

                  As much as a life ban should be the standard sanction for this from the UCI, I hope they allow the Belgian cycling federation to put forward a proposal for a rehabilitation pathway which (if accepted by her peers after about five years) would allow her to race again after a lengthy ban.

      • Dave

        +1

        Riding a motorbike in a cycling race is not a mistake of any kind, and we shouldn’t allow it to be trivialised it as such.

        Time to forget cycling and get a real job. The sport doesn’t need her.

        • ebbe

          She didn’t ride it. Not at the World Championships (where the bike was discovered) at least.

    • Anon N + 1

      With respect to your children’s question, I believe your reply should be a logic lesson: You could reply by saying “I have two legs; birds have two legs. Does that mean I am a bird?”

  • Unbelievable

    I kind of disagree. If you ban someone for life, then you’ll never get that person back in the sport as a reformed, clean athlete who might spread the word amongst others in their team and management that being banned is very bad. If you ban them for enough time to be a strong deterrent to others (e.g. 5 years – to a 19 year old, that’s pretty much “life” anyway) then you can deter others AND have the possibility of getting them back clean. However, a second offence should be double: 10 years. And the third, double: 20 years.

    However, the team, and the mechanics need to be responsible too. The team management, mechanics, soigneurs etc are the ones who see several “generations” of racers go past, and they are also the ones who see sport as a career, rather than just a few years of living the dream. They are also usually more mature, and can see the long term impact of a ban – whereas most 19 year olds can’t see that.

  • Adrian

    Minor and not at the same time. In 2016, on a site that goes to considerable effort to be inclusive, no one should write “man and machine” as a way to sum up this sport. This is compounded where the example that has ignited all this was about a woman and a machine.

    • H.E. Pennypacker

      Maybe he should put a trigger warning on it for you next time.

  • Mark Blackwell

    Aside from the conclusion, which I disagree with heartily, this line really gets my goat: “At CyclingTips, we agree”. It’s smug, self-satisfied and you’re piling on in a situation where there is clear commercial gain to be had.

    • Hamish Moffatt

      Huh?

    • philipmcvey

      Smug I agree with, but I’m not sure where the commercial gain is…?

    • Thanks for the candid feedback Mark, but I’m not sure I understand. How is this smug and how do we gain commercially from this? (if you say “clicks” – we stand to make a few pennies from this piece, no matter what our stance is).

      • jules

        I’m trying to think of a witty response and I can’t even conjure that up

      • Mark Blackwell

        Clicks is what I was thinking to be honest, and I do trust that isn’t entirely what drives decision making for you (and recognise that you have plowed a lonely furrow on this particular issue of mechanical doping).

        “Smug” is a total subtlety and in the eye of the beholder, in this case me… probably little point in justifying it, but an entire paragraph that says “At CyclingTips, we agree” sounds like you are on a high horse, and thus “smug”. Nuff said.

        The context is probably more that I’m feeling aggrieved that the internet is piling onto someone who made a mistake and moralising in a way that I find ugly.

        • H.E. Pennypacker

          It’s amazing how “nuff said” has become a substitute for actually explaining one’s position, isn’t it?

      • Ragtag

        Ignore this comment. No one in their right mind can make out how this is smug or how you benefit from this commercially.

        • Dave

          Totally agree Ragtag. This is a good piece – I don’t agree 100% with the opinion put forth, but it’s argued very well.

          I’ve been critical of CT a number of times, but only when they deserve it.

    • Nitro

      That’s a bit harsh ! I love the fact that the site has an opinion, and wants to stand up and be counted for voicing it !

      To me, this is a HUGE issue for cycling – its certainly got cycling more mainstream media coverage today than what should have got the attention – race results…

    • Cameron Harris

      Did you notice the first word in the title of this piece? My reading of it is that sentence is the opinion promised in the title.

      This is the first story on cycling that normal people at work have mentioned to me since last year’s TdF – it’s a big story and it has cut through into mainstream media. You call it commercial – I call it coverage.

      I want photos of the bike, I want photos of her normal bike, I want statements from the ‘friend’. I want footage of them standing together to see if the not my bike story makes sense. I want footage of Dave Everett powering ip the Koppenberg, secret wheelie button held firmly flat.

      • Chris

        “This is the first story on cycling that normal people at work have mentioned to me since last year’s TdF – it’s a big story and it has cut through into mainstream media.”
        Agreed. Check “The Age” (Melbourne newspaper) site. No mention of Cadel’s Great Ocean Road Race to be found, despite it being held in the state yesterday, but there’s a video on how you can hide a motor in a bike front and centre. Same with ABC online. No mention of a major race in our country, just a prominent picture of Van den Driessche and a story on her cheating in Europe.

        • Simon

          And two rather large newsmen on ABC24 I saw this evening having a chuckle over this and saying a sport already with a considerable doping problem now has motors to contend with. Then they moved onto the “real sport”, tennis, that has widespread match fixing issues to contend with. As I finally learned after ’98, don’t take sport so seriously. Esp when money is involved. Admire the bikes, the scenery, the downhill skills just don’t believe in all you see.
          As an aside I’m rather intrigued by these motors and I hope their development brings forth more efficient, powerful, lightweight versions to make up for my declining powers :-)

    • Superpilot

      If CT didn’t report it, it would be the only news site in the world probably, cycling or otherwise, that wouldn’t be running this story.

  • echidna_sg

    I’d say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Junior siblings are hardly likely to come up with this stuff unless someone very close (dad or coach perhaps) is directly involved. Trace it back to the source. Someone has an engineering shop, someone sold the epo… perhaps this “friend” who owns the bike can share where they got the device specially made…

  • TT

    Guilty justification through a youtube clip….??!!?? though if you turn your volume up loud enough you can ever so slightly make out the whirring sound of the electric motor.

  • Michele

    The motor didn’t get in the bike by itself.

    If I was Femke, I’d blame it on my vanishing twin, deny, deny, deny.

    Then, after some time, co-operate with the authorities, and then get the min. suspension.

    Nearly as big a joke as Patrick suggesting life long bans.

  • John Czechowski

    A few things. We can debate the morality of this in relation to murder and relative punishment all we like.
    The fundamental issue at stake here is that all sport is a construct. This construct is contingent upon a set of agreed rules within which the participants operate. We have a governing body who sets the rules, and enforces punishments for transgressions to ensure that those who do wish to play by the rules may do so truthfully and equitably. Note also that we all spend our money on licencing and the like to fund this enforcement regime.

    At issue here is a transgression that resides so far beyond the spirit of the rules of the game that we all feel justifiably shocked. As such, in my opinion, it’s not unreasonable that lifetime bans should be enforced for individuals participating in whatever capacity to subvert this construct. Keep in mind of course that cycle racing is a large part of peoples lives, but should not define their lives. There is far more to life than this and it is not unreasonable to expect severe penalties within this construct to keep it pure.

    With regard to culpability, I cannot allow the idea that this is an innocent young girl who has been manipulated into this situation. Do yourself a favour and watch the closing stages of the Koppenberg Cross where she came second. Observe her pedalling style in relation to the winner. It looks suspiciously smooth. Like she’s not even trying. Watch the winner. She is all over the bike. You can see the agony of her effort. There is little to no effort on the face of Famke. Realise that Famke would be in complete control of when the motor is activated. Realise that she would have to be certain that the motor is not activated when she is dismounting to run. She knew exactly what she was doing. It’s also worth noting that Nikki Harris who came third behind Famke knew that something was up and tweeted about it immediately after the race.

    No, in my opinion, this is not forgivable.

    • Cameron Harris

      Here’s the Nikki Harris tweet referred to above:

      https://twitter.com/Nikkiharris86/status/693487457552171010

    • Dave

      In years to come, I won’t be surprised if this video will turn out to be as infamous as LA’s stage win at Sestriere, the 100m at the 1988 Olympics, or Mohammed Amir bowling those two no balls in the Lord’s Test.

  • Karl

    The arguements that compare punishment in the criminal justice system to that of sports administration don’t cut it for me. Sport is a voluntary pursuit and a convicted cheat has made a conscious decision to not participate in fair play – so from that perspective a life ban seems entirely appropriate. Life bans may not deter people from cheating, but that doesn’t mean that it is not appropriate. That said, perhaps a 5 year minimum would be just as devastating and when they come back they’ll be a warning to others of why not to cheat.

    • H.E. Pennypacker

      Agreed. This is not the criminal justice system. Her fundamental liberty to move and live free of captivity is not at stake. Her ability to pursue a voluntarily chosen career is at stake. Nothing more, nothing less. And if she did it, I for one think she has forfeited that.

  • zosim

    In theory I have no issue with lifetime bans; as Karl says, sport is a voluntary pursuit, not something like freedom when you look at prison. The thing is, criminals and cheats never expect to be caught and ever increasing penalties don’t prevent them doing these things. All that said, if you’re going to make first offence lifetime bans, then make them for ALL cheating. EPO – lifetime. Motor in bike – lifetime. Clenbuterol – lifetime. Training with prohibited coach – lifetime.

    I don’t know how you create a hierarchy of cheating where one type is better than another and I don’t know how you judge the difference. Would we have all been happier if this young woman had been riding around with blood thick like treacle or taking some dodgy cancer causing drug banned for human use because it’s “traditional”?

    To suggest that a motor is somehow worse than intentionally blood doping or taking something you know to be banned is more than a little hypocritical. Once you cross the line from contaminated supplement (which few of us believe that often anyway) into intentional cheating, it’s irrelevant whether it’s mechanical or biological, it’s all cheating and should be treated as such.

    To avoid banging on about it, team staff who have doping offences or admissions against their names should be barred from working in the sport after retirement. It’s hard to have a truly clean sport where even if people like Vaughters espouse clean cycling (lets ignore the number of mealy mouthed admissions his team has made over the last few years), their records, personal wealth and continued involvement/success in their chosen sport set an example for young riders. Either we want a clean sport or we don’t.

  • roddders

    Doping is just as bad. The facilitators in both doping and mechanical cheating need life bans, the riders are just as much victims in many cases. I wonder if Neale Rogers will idolise mechanical cheats as much as he does dopers?

  • Michele

    In all seriousness, I think if life-time bans are going to be given to mechanical dopers, than surely life-time bans should apply to chemical dopers.
    Surely it’s easier to catch a mechanical doper than a cyclist who uses PEDs.
    Heck, even if the cyclist gets caught using some wonder-drug / doping practice, you still have to wonder – in light of the IAAF fiasco – if they will be ‘found out’.
    Those who are determined to cheat will therefore resort back to the tried and tested methods of pharmaceutical, as opposed to mechanical help.
    Life-time bans might stop people putting motors in their bikes, but until they do the same with PEDs, then the choice is easy for a cheat.

  • bikeinbc

    Cheating is cheating. Doping or a small motor, can’t see why the media seems to be making this case that one is far far worse than the other. Effect is exactly the same. Sporting fraud. A rider taking epo and a blood bag is NOT all that concerned about this “man and machine” ideal. The young riders these days have a sport lead by hypocrites. So many dopers are still sports stars, team managers, staff, media. They got their second chances and still have great jobs and lifestyle. The media, fans and sponsors who keep supporting and making excuses for the dopers still around in the sport have all played a part in this situation. So when the next generation cheats why should anyone be surprised?

  • David Chadderton

    A life ban? Hardly justifiable. Murderers and killer drivers are not given life bans from anything. Catch and sanction, yes.

  • Lincoln Imp 74

    Perhaps we should get Campag to change its design of its battery placement in the seat tube and keep more obvious like the Shimano. Then, anything down the seat tube is suspect. Simple light down the tube will see whether the BB axle is adulterated.

    5mm Allen key, cheap LED torch and you can simply check.

    Alternatively, Take lower end motorsport that have sealed components in engines for example, a competitor can pay a sum for the scutineers to strip the engine of another racer to check. If clean, th
    e engine owner keeps the money, if not according to regs, sanctions are applied.

  • Lincoln Imp 74

    Perhaps we should get Campag to change its design of its battery placement in the seat tube and keep more obvious like the Shimano. Then, anything down the seat tube is suspect. Simple light down the tube will see whether the BB axle is adulterated.

    5mm Allen key, cheap LED torch and you can simply check.

    Alternatively, Take lower end motorsport that have sealed components in engines for example, a competitor can pay a sum for the scutineers to strip the engine of another racer to check. If clean, the engine owner keeps the money, if not according to regs, sanctions are applied.

  • Dom

    I’ve got a better idea as a punishment, instead of life bans force offending riders to ride with rubbing brakes for the rest of their career. I don’t think they’re going to stick around too long having to deal with that.

    • Dave

      I think you meant to say “…force offending riders to ride A FIXIE with rubbing brakes…”

      :D

      • Dom

        That sort of torture wouldn’t be out of place at guantanamo

        • Dave

          I did hold back a bit.

          I could have added in “with the Jens Voigt Hour Record playlist on loop” as well.

  • Dom

    I’ve got a better idea as a punishment, instead of life bans force offending riders to ride with rubbing brakes for the rest of their career. I don’t think they’re going to stick around too long having to deal with that.

  • ArthurVandelay

    Good article Neal thank you. The big elephant in the room may be how we deter and detect mechanical doping. The only way to truly do it would be to do what happens in Formula 1 and Nascar: A prolonged inspection period days before the race, followed by an impounding of the bikes that have been certified as motor free. This would clearly be a logistical impossibility for the sport, as it is not uncommon for riders to have multiple bikes available for a given Classic day or stage on a multi-day race. The costs and hassle factor would be prohibitive, not to mention the PR disaster that would further alienate much of the public who are already disgusted by pharmacological doping. Very sad that the sport and its culture of cheating have descended to this level.

  • RamsbothamCZ

    1. A lifetime ban is completely justifiable. People trying to compare this to a death sentence is irrational. This is a sport. I’d much rather receive a lifetime ban from the sport of cycling than end up in prison for life. But, I’d never cheat or murder. Her life will go on but it should go on separate from the sport of cycling. She can now dedicate herself to going for QOMs and “winning” local group rides, if anyone wants to ride with her.

    2. 19 years old is not that young. Many people at that age are already on their own. Let’s stop talking about how young and impressionable she is. At 19 years old you are old enough to see how the culture of cycling perceives cheats. You are old enough to know what is and what isn’t allowed within the rules. Young? Sure. But she is well old enough to make her own informed decisions.

  • H.E. Pennypacker

    I’m stunned so many people disagree with this and think a softer touch is appropriate. A soft touch for a century is how we got here to begin with.

  • John Bowman

    Slightly worrying that these ‘doped’ bikes can be bought off the peg as it were from bike shops now – https://www.salden.nl/nl/wilier-triestina-e-cycl-ocrosser-met-trapondersteuning.html

    • Dave

      They are not illegal, just not permitted in racing.

  • ebbe

    Here we go: The elusive “friend” has spoken (one sentence) to Belgian media and clearly said: “It is my bike” – http://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20160201_02103070 (use Google translate the article, but the movie is also in Dutch)

    • Dave

      Suuuuuuuuurre.

  • Superpilot

    That video, you can definitely see her cadence increase/personal effort decrease as she nears the top. With other sports, they register the tools used as officially individually identified. Is it the same with cycling? I competed at a worlds in a totally unrelated sport, and the chassis was watermarked with a non removable sticker. Surely then the UCI would be able to cross check?

    • Dave

      Cycling is usually 20-30 years behind most other sports when it comes to basic organisational professionalism, so I expect that they are not.

      I won’t be surprised if this forces a good sized step forward in that area.

  • ipnightly

    So the “male friend” has exactly the same bike set up as her?, seat height, stem length, saddle position etc. I am quite sure that all her spare bikes would be all the same dimensions and the likelihood of a male riders bike set up spec would be the same as hers would be remote, even if it is the same frame size . If the “male friends” bike set up spec is exactly the same as hers…. then the excuse in my opinion is not plausible.

  • velocite

    Wow. Just read all those comments. Very interesting. But here’s a view that I don’t think has been expressed. It seems that we now have a cheap device that will reveal the probability of a motor, ie that it will be worthwhile to get some tools, in a few seconds. This means the sport has no big problem: so-called mechanical doping has no chance of becoming endemic. These testing devices need to be spread far and wide. That being the case I can’t get that excited about the moral culpability of the people involved. Sure, a ban, a fine, and most certainly, public naming and shaming.

  • charlie

    Would it be fair to say that you guys at Cycling Tips (other cycling media outlets) are shit scared that cycling fans will lose faith? Because if they do, you’ve lost your meal ticket.

    • John Czechowski

      What a ridiculous comment.
      It suggests that those running this site are in it for the filthy lucre that running a cycling website clearly generates. (Why just the other day, Wade had diamond Grill installed. All bling, all da time, Yo!)
      It also suggests that cycling fans are fans because of the spectacle – in the same way Superbowl fans love football.
      I dare say that most people who read this site are passionate cyclists themselves who are irretrievably invested in this sport.
      Those who lose faith in the sport probably would move on in any case. (Refer Lance Armstrong fanboys/girls circa 2012)
      I, for one wouldn’t miss ’em.

      • charlie

        Those who are running this site are making living. So why is that ridiculous comment?

  • Abdu

    Just like for medical doping ey?

    If you can ban a 22 year old girl for this, a lifetime bans for blood doping is appropriate surely.

    On that basis, teams like Astana, Orica GreenEdge, FdJ, Movistar, BMC, etc would all be missing a DS, manager, team doctor, etc.

  • Chuck6421

    I’m amazed at the hysterics I’m reading on this. It’s as if…well..as if someone had cheated their way to 7 TdF victories, or something.
    I would argue that the cycling nattering classes (of which I’m admittedly a member) have it backwards. I would argue that once an athlete has tainted their bodies with a PED, they’ve made permanent changes that only a forced retirement from exercise (with some way of measuring a mandated loss of fitness) can reverse. And since there’s no way for that to be enforced, a lifetime ban is warranted.
    “Mechanical doping” is bad, real bad. Probably criminal in most jurisdictions. But a lifetime ban? That’s hysterical, in a non-funny way. Kids will be kids and all that, eh? Make them pay a price, arrest them if necessary. But a lifetime ban is over the top.

  • Michael Tolstrup

    Stupid idea from Merkx, a first time mistake should not cost a hole career and why should it be worse than drug doping.2 years is a god solution. instead, focus doping fight on beeing objective, example let Wada take over the full mandat of catching and sentencing dopingoffences, that way UCI would avoid conflict of interest whn having to penalise there stars. that is much more importent than destroying young athletes life for a stupid mistake.

    • Dave

      The reason that using a motor is worse than doping for Eddy Merckx is that he did one but not the other.

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  • raystrach

    you don’t have to use a motor to commit technological fraud. if a bike does not comply with uci specs, technological fraud is deemed to have been committed.
    so probably no 6 months bans for motors. note that there is no upper limit of sanction.

  • Berne Shaw

    If a bank employee steals retirement funds from your bank spends them and is later caught do you wish to five them and give them back a job in your bank? Absolutely not. Forgiveness and rehabilitation do not require being allowed back into cycling. First atone by paying a large fine. Make restitution by serving others in your life. Then go develop skills to help,people not just your own greedy self

  • Berne Shaw

    If a bank employee steals retirement funds from your bank spends them and is later caught do you wish to five them and give them back a job in your bank? Absolutely not. Forgiveness and rehabilitation do not require being allowed back into cycling. First atone by paying a large fine. Make restitution by serving others in your life. Then go develop skills to help,people not just your own greedy self

  • Frank

    I reckon that plenty of riders have motors … and UCI didn’t want the stink of exposing someone in a spring classic or the TDF … so they exposed this girl as a warning. Bet there’s teams pulling motors out of bikes and thankful for the ‘heads up’.

  • Coach Rob Manning DC

    Really?

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    What’s more offensive to me are the guys who are willing to screw up their physiology, potentially give themselves cancer and even use things that aren’t even past testing phases.

    Doping is far more damaging to the athlete than a motor.

    Id rather someone cheat with a motor and have a body that won’t collapse on them at the age of 50.

    So you want to talk lifetime bans, let’s give them to drug cheats and give the motor kids a few years.

  • Berne Shaw

    I totally agree Neal. Only I view all cheating including Nibali with the extensive team car fraud as one strike and you are out for life. These are adults. These are choices. Use the model of a bank employee or president. If caught stealing your life savings do we let them become re employed in banks? NO! Cycling cheaters can have second chances doing something else but not cycling. All this talk about giving people a second chance is not equivalent. They get another chance in life but not to participate and keep honest racers from their rightful places

    Neal is right. Would anyone here give the champion crowd favorite Nibali access to managing you life savings? Not me.