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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 4:33 am 
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I've been thinking about the comments of a few people about how disappointed they are that there heroes have been doping (or seem to have been).

My perspective is that they're still heroes: they were breaking the rules, but so was damn near everyone from what I've heard off the record.... and it wouldn't matter how many drugs I took, I still couldn't think about riding at the pro level.

I reckon what the sport really needs if it's to come clean is to first open up the history as honestly as possible. We need to know if riders were making individual decisions to dope (I doubt it), whether there was an informal encouragement from some or all teams and national federations, or whether it was completely organised DDR style. However that can't happen while people are being threaten with sanctions and losing jerseys for the ex-riders, or bans for current riders. There is also the spectre of libel proceedings if rider X says directeur sportif Y encouraged all his riders to dope... and we've already seen Ulrich using injunctions this way.
Any progress risks being stalled by interminable legal challenges to every statement and every lab procedure.


Without this, the sport is condemned to hypocrisy, as a bunch of DS's known by insiders to have encouraged their riders to dope will carry on pretending to be cleanskins who was their hands of their riders when they are caught. That guarantees cynicism, which means it will be an easier moral choice for current riders to do whatever they think they can get away with... partly because they suspect others are doing it.

Given that teams (and national federations competing for funding) live or die by their results, it would be surprising if there *hadn't* been some level of systematised doping...

So then I started thinking about the parallel with post-apartheid South Africa: to clean out the history of who did what, they had a "Truth & Reconciliation Commission". The idea was that you could front up and be honest about what you did under the old regime, without being thrown in prison. If otoh you claimed to have done nothing and were subsequently shown to have been behaving abominably, you didn't get that protection.

My proposal would be to set some date, maybe 1 Jan 2006. Anyone who fronted up and described what they and others did prior to that date would be protected from penalty. The moratorium would last for say, 1 year... and after that date, open season on testing old blood/urine samples with modern techniques.

Opinions/thoughts?

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Posted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 4:33 am 


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 9:14 am 
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Look what it's doing to South Africa :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 9:19 am 
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Rodrego Hernandez wrote:
Look what it's doing to South Africa :wink:


Turned out better than Zimbabwe :(

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 10:27 am 
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GrahamB wrote:
Rodrego Hernandez wrote:
Look what it's doing to South Africa :wink:


Turned out better than Zimbabwe :(



SA is following the Zim business model so it may be better to reserve judgement on that just now. :cry:


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 4:04 pm 
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Works when enough people are in the gruppetto when it finishes outside the time limit - nothing happens and nobody cares. Or the drug hysteria would end up like the witch trials always did and come to a halt once the town bigwigs started to get named in the coerced confessions.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 10:12 pm 
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I think it's a very good idea. Some time ago, on this forum, I advocated an amnesty program (with sanctions for those who get caught after continuing to deny) as more likely to produce change than the usual lets-get-tough-on-dopers approach.

In the US, several cities have attacked the gun problem this way: by coupling vigorous enforcement with an amnesty-like program that enables people to turn in their guns with no criminal consequences.

I don't know what the "look what it's done to South Africa" comment is intended to mean. South Africa has plenty of problems -- social, economic, political -- but from what I can tell none of those problems stem from the Truth and Reconciliation process. I've done some reading on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and heard some thoughtful critiques of it by South African scholars. But it seems to have been by and large successful in producing more truthful accounts and, even, some reconciliation. Did it solve all of South Africa's social and economic problems? It was never intended to, nor is there any way it could have. Did it cause or even exacerbate South Africa's social and economic problems? I don't believe there is any evidence for that.

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 Post subject: or
PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 7:14 am 
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Or we could just let pros dope (so long as they don't break laws).

#1 I don't see why it is the UCIs or the public's concern at all. To me this is like my work. So long as I do my work well, it's not my employers concern if I take caffeine or not or recycle my blood or not.

#2 On the other hand if I take cocaine and the government catches me, I'd likely end up in jail.

These two considerations, privacy #1 and legality #2, are fine for how most of us work. Why treat pro cycling differently?


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 Post subject: Re: or
PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 9:56 am 
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seriousconsult wrote:
Or we could just let pros dope (so long as they don't break laws).


A fair question, and I know a few people who used to think like that. However as one said: when neo-pros die in their sleep, it's time to stop the madness.

A second issue is that it risks making cycling a ghetto sport: if you know that the only way you can succeed is to take drugs, and they may f**k you up, you'd be inclined to choose a different sport (where drugs may also be common but less publicised, true..).

Third, the sponsors have spoken: they don't want to be associated with drugs, so it's either get rid of them, or cover up...

It remains that the being a pro athlete is an un-natural thing to do to your body and you could well argue that altitude training and so on are the same thing with a different label (I don't have much time for the Australian Institute of Sport's hoier than thou attitude when they use an "altitude house" to achieve similar effects to epo).

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 Post subject: Re: or
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 1:21 am 
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seriousconsult wrote:
Or we could just let pros dope (so long as they don't break laws).

#1 I don't see why it is the UCIs or the public's concern at all. To me this is like my work. So long as I do my work well, it's not my employers concern if I take caffeine or not or recycle my blood or not.

#2 On the other hand if I take cocaine and the government catches me, I'd likely end up in jail.

These two considerations, privacy #1 and legality #2, are fine for how most of us work. Why treat pro cycling differently?


I can't even begin to say how little sense this makes. What should be an issue of privacy and what an issue of illegality is the question, not the answer. (Have you never heard the song "Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own"? Cocaine use is one of the subjects.) If we think it's not harmful (to the person or to society generally), then we relegate to the private realm of choice. If we think it is harmful (either to the individual or to others), then we make it illegal.

There is plenty of evidence that doping of various sorts (steroids, EPO) is harmful.

But the idea that we could resolve the issue by labeling is, simply, not a serious contribution.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 3:49 am 
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given some countries laws, athletes and teams can't come clean without legal action for sporting fraud for several years afterward...

Amnesty has been suggested but governing bodies and countries wouldn't all agree to allow it without taking action... The Telekom thing happened for a few reasons but not the least of which was the satute of limitations had run out... So Zabel, Riis etc get to "come clean" without fear of getting any dirt on them...


for me I just can't bring mydelf to think that everyone dopes so all my hero's should still be hero's. The sad part is that if everyone were clean, the results very likely wouldn't change much...

To be honest I simply can't watch what is a vast collection of video's anymore with anything resembling the same joy.


The answer may well be simple regulating things with more consistency but not neccesarily more testing...

part of what we have now is a bit of a joke as the UCI want to use a bit of witch hunting as a credibility booster, same for WADA as they don't have the balls or the strength to go after FIFA etc so have to beat up on the worst governing body in sports... None of that is to say the athletes are not to blame, but what they're being put through is absolute crap. They need a union but the stars are selfish tards that won't stand up and risk their own paycheck.

Greed permiates cycling at all levels and it, more than anything is to blame... I think we do have further to fall and when the stars paychecks get hammered, that's when we'll see the athletes form up more solid and then we will have more regulation as their will be a two way fight.

It may not lead to less drugs, but it will be a more solid game.

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 Post subject: swinter...
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 7:05 am 
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I tend to think the UCI/WADA should just stop testing rather than have an amnesty. They shouldn't be involved in testing athletes in the first place.

It's confusing to me how swinter brings legality into it.

First of all UCI/WADA is not a government making laws. Possessing/using EPO/steroids inappropiately is already illegal.

Secondly, illegality is not directly related to harmful. Government often lets people make choices that are harmful because that's a part of freedom.

The topic is UCI/WADA overreaching by testing and witch hunitng and how to deal with that. Amnesty is one way. Stopping testing is another way.

Cycling will be destroyed before it is clean. Thanks to the UCI, I'm not even sure who won the Tour this year or last year.


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 Post subject: not serious?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2007 8:41 am 
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True, serious, there is no 1:1 correlation between harmful and illegal. (And I didn't mean to suggest there is; only that harmfulness to self or others is the usual -- but not invariant -- basis upon which society makes such choices.)

You were the one who brought legality into it when you suggested that if it's illegal it can be banned; if not, it should just be a private choice. Your actual words were "We could just let pros dope (so long as they don't break laws). . . . So long as I do my work well, it's not my employers concern if I take caffeine or not or recycle my blood or not. . . . On the other hand if I take cocaine and the government catches me, I'd likely end up in jail."

(As a legal matter, BTW, a US employer could in most cases prohibit its workers from drinking coffee or recycling their blood. And they or the government can make you pee in a cup -- and fire you for just one positive.)

My point is that the questions of whether something is made illegal or left to private choice are just two sides of the same coin. If we think it is okay (or not too harmful), we leave it to private choice. If we think it's too harmful, we make it illegal. Whether you categorize something as "private" or "illegal" is the policy choice.

Where governments have already made things illegal, UCI/WADA could not allow it in the sport. Where governments have not spoken, UCI/WADA can still regulate within their purview -- which is what they are doing.

Personally, I think cycling will get relatively cleaner. (As will baseball.) It will take regulation, lots of testing, and a change of culture within the sport. That appears to be happening, especially among younger professionals. Some form of amnesty for those who come clean would help accelerate the change of culture.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 6:53 pm 
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yeah, unfettered drugs taking in sport never did anyone any harm - just look at the east german sports system. Nothing wrong there.

Just women turning into men, people keeling over.

No problems - they had the choice.

Or did they? A 16 year old is told by their coach they need to take X, Y and Z to make it. Do they know any different? What happens in 20 years if it all goes wrong? The logical end-point for this is for fiddling with DNA and breeding freaks.

I don't know about you, but I would not be very interested in such a sporting spectacle.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:01 am 
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PezTech wrote:
The sad part is that if everyone were clean, the results very likely wouldn't change much...


Or is it the good part? Somehow it would be worse if potentially great athletes have gone unrecognised because they didn't dope... and vice-versa.

I think you hit it with greed, but not just in cycling. Wherever there is a lot of money in sport, people will do whatever it takes to win and you end up with a pharmacological arms race. Which means a quick burst of out-of-competition testing on top level soccer players would be enlightening.

Otoh, maybe Fuentes has a point: what we ask of cyclists, particularly in stage races, is maybe just too much. Marathoners only do a few races a year, at most. Expecting someone to ride at such a high level for 3 solid weeks is a big ask of their physiology.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:46 pm 
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EPO, in various forms, comes with a large health warning, it has what's known as a "black box" warning, a bit like cigarette packet health warnings. I'll summarise / generalise now but synthetic EPO is destined for, say, cancer patients on chemotherapy and studies show it can cause illnesses for them, but the idea is that whilst it can harm you, getting chemotherapy is obviously more beneficial. But the interesting thing is that the max doses for EPO in the studies which show harm form what you could call the minimum dose for a doping cyclist. In other words, healthy riders are consuming waaay too much, and their big doses significantly increase the chance of cancer and heart disease.

As much as I disapprove of doping, I wouldn't wish an illness like this on any cheating rider. This is one of the problems with doping - there's loads of witchdoctors trying to sell their services and stolen/fake/illegal medicines, they don't care for your health, they just want the $$$s. So the doping rider probably isn't weighing up the true costs of doping against the benefits.

As for a truth and reconciliation, nice idea but the South Africans wanted the truth and to reconcile with each other. Pro cycling, it's organisers at the UCI and most of the riders are still living in denial and can't recognise the truth. Riders say the bunch is cleaner, but that's like saying there's less apartheid, there's no point just reducing the bad stuff, if you want truth and reconciliation then everyone has to recognise mistakes and to be honest. Pro cycling's a million miles from this.


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