May 29, 2008

Pro Cycling At The Crossroads: Clean Up Or Clear Off.: A wide-ranging account of the sport's struggle to clean up its drug culture in advance of this weekend's DC-area race. The backstory is familiar to cycling fans, but it's an eye-opener to see the past decade of scandal laid out for a wider audience and juxtaposed with the approach of big-league American sports to doping.

posted by etagloh to other at 01:43 AM - 6 comments

Thanks for that, etagloh. Interesting read (although when did the word "cheater" get invented? What was wrong with "cheat"?). I love watching cycling, Le Tour in particular, so obviously I hope they clean it up successfully. As a spectator, I don't care how long it takes them to tour la France, I just want to see them all suffer and to see someone emerge victorious because he had more heart, or guts or balls - and not because he had more EPO. Mostly, I just want to know that what I'm seeing is what's really happening.

posted by JJ at 04:09 AM on May 29, 2008

As a cycling fan and former racer, I'm happy to see the efforts made to eliminate drugs from professional cycling. At the same time, I think cycling gets penalized by the public for the very reason that it is working to clean things up. Every time a rider is caught, the media is full of stories about how "dirty" cycling is. And yet, cycling imposes extremely tough penalties - typically at least 2 year suspension (4 years from the pro ranks). Given the short careers of most pro cycllsts, this amounts to a lifetime ban for most. I've always wondered how NFL, NBA, or MLB fans would react if players caught using drugs in their sports were suspended for 2 to 4 years.

posted by BikeNut at 07:57 AM on May 29, 2008

Thanks for that, etagloh. Interesting read (although when did the word "cheater" get invented? What was wrong with "cheat"?). Well, I suppose its been around at least as long as the age old taunt, "cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater."

posted by Chargdres at 09:06 AM on May 29, 2008

I've never heard that taunt. I've heard about Peter Peter, but that's something else. I don't hate "cheater," though. It's what they were, after all. What JJ and BikeNut said. I love the sport, and I don't want to see it fade into oblivion because of mismanagement of the doping issue. Thanks for the post, holgate.

posted by chicobangs at 09:27 AM on May 29, 2008

Thanks for the comments. I'm not sure I share the optimism of the piece's conclusion, and the hope that Slipstream and outspoken ex-dopers like David Millar can make a difference: the complicity (or see/hear/speak no evil attitude) of sponsors means that it's going to take demonstrably clean success to help the sport kick the habit and rebound. The juxtaposition with NFL/NBA/MLB and their players' unions is interesting, though the setups make it difficult to make like-for-like comparisons. That said, unionisation, plus the nature of the governing bodies, most likely makes it difficult for any individual team to assert its drug-free status.

posted by etagloh at 08:21 PM on May 29, 2008

Rant Your Head Off has an interesting analysis of this article. It's about halfway down and starts at the big bold "Meanwhile...". Preceding that is a pretty good discussion of the Gatlin case currently before CAS.

posted by apoch at 07:54 AM on May 30, 2008

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