Friday, May 25, 2007

cleaning up cycling

Everyday lately pro cycling seems to get messier and messier. Yesterday With Zabel and Aldag admitting to doping and now today Bjarne Riis admits to doping when he won the Tour de France and the Amstel Gold Race amongst other wins.

Add to that the mess that is Puerto with some riders being banned until it is cleared up, others allowed to race anyway, and the rumors galore. Something has to give.

Over at Velonews, Andrew Hood has an excellent editorial on the whole Puerto affair that has some suggestions that echo some things that I have been thinking for a while. With the system that is currently in place you are never going to get anyone to admit to anything and consequently you will never be able to clean it up. Hood proposes a number of steps to help in this including:

offer riders a chance to clean about what they did, proffering details on the who's, what's, where's and when's. Don't require them to spill names and even let their respective doping infractions remain anonymous as part of a package amnesty.

The trade-off? A racing ban of 12 to 18 months, with the condition that they will be put on a watch list, they will be tested more often a child molester on parole and any subsequent infractions will lead to a lifetime ban.

Personally I think this is the way to approach it. It may seem a bit unsavory but so what. At some point we need to stop the speculation and get to some sort of conclusion about this whole fiasco that is Puerto and whatever other doping rings are out there.

I do think that Slipstream has the right approach with their new partnership with the Agency for Sporting Ethics. It may be expensive but I it seems like it could stop doping because you aren't looking for the doping products but the effects. Though it may not be as drastic as the Slipstream process, it seems that T-Mobile is doing a good job this year, and with all the admissions from the Telekom years they need it. They even suspended a rider for markers that seemed questionable but not rising to the level of a doping offense (I can't seem to find the link but will keep looking).

Ultimately something has to be done because it undermines the sport and eventually it will drive away fans and more importantly maybe the sponsors.

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