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Doping in professional cycling is a complex topic with no simple solution. Last month at the New Pathways to Pro Cycling conference I began to understand how messed up the problem actually is.
However, one thing that isn’t discussed very often is the issue of performance enhancing drugs (PED’s) used at the amateur level (i.e Masters, club racers, etc). Of course this gets very little media attention and rightly so. No one except for us club cyclists really cares about how Joe Blow tested positive for eating tainted beef.
What many people might not know is that all doping related sanctions for amateurs and professionals in Australia are published on the Australia Sport Ant-Doping Authority’s (ASADA) website. If you want to see who is currently under sanction you can go to the ASADA website under current sanctions. If you want to see past sanctions, it’s not as convenient to navigate but you can scan the media release archive.
I’m not complaining that the media isn’t overly interested in small time offenders who get caught for PED use. It’s definitely not good to taint our sport at this level and it may prohibit younger riders from taking part. However, I’ve heard strong opinions that Cycling Australia and each of the state federations should have an interest in publicising sanctioned riders (via their website or newsletters) as a deterrent to other amateur cyclists and make it known that testing is taking place and that people are getting caught. This would hopefully make athletes more aware of the consequences of their actions before they decided to use PED’s.
I spoke with Cycling Australia and the process for publicising this information is via the ASADA media releases. ASADA is the independent anti-doping authority and Cycling Australia leaves this duty up to them. ASADA carry out the testing, interpret the results, and determine the sanction along with CA. CA’s responsibility is to implement the sanctions. The media pick up on the ASADA press releases and publicise the stories as they see fit.
On the flip side I can understand that creating more attention than necessary to sanctioned athletes may have a detrimental effect on the athlete’s social and professional standing in the community. A positive test result can sometimes lay in a very gray area which makes this a very controversial topic whether you’re a pro or amateur. I’m not a pro cyclist nor do I ever want to be one. I don’t want to have to start looking at the ingredients of every supplement or medication I ingest and worrying about contamination. For example, if I tested positive for something from some cold medicine and ended up on the front page of Cycling Australia’s website I’d be extremely upset. No one would believe it was an honest mistake and I wouldn’t bother going to court to prove my innocence anyway. Unfortunately this is the reality of being a Pro cyclist, but I don’t want to live my life like that. I enjoy racing my bike at an amateur level but I don’t consider submitting a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to CA every time my doctor gives me a script (even though the rules say I should). Luckily I rarely have to deal with this, but you get my point. These things aren’t always black and white and sanctions have been know to be implemented in the gray areas. Note: if you hold a Cycling Australia license, you are under WADA’s code of ethics just like the pro cyclists.
I’ve never seen intentional doping at the amateur level of cycling but I have no doubt that it happens. Many people passionately believe that sanctioned riders should be named and shamed by Cycling Australia and the national federations to help discourage others from making the same choice and to let it be known that people are getting caught. What do you think? Would any good come out of it?
Have a look at Cycling Australia’s Anti Doping Policy
Check out ADADA’s youtube channel. Some interesting information and a good resource that will answer lots of your questions.
Banned substances in cycling you should know about.
Costs associated with each of the different tests. Unfortunately the breakdown by sport is confidential as it may reveal the overall testing strategy.