It's a time of the year when most cyclists can take it easy for a while and recover from a grueling season. Unfortunately its also become the time when, since there isn't much road racing left to talk about, the spotlight switch's fully (well apart from Mr Armstrong that is) to the topic of doping. To mark the occasion I've decided to list who has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs so far this year and discuss how this news should be viewed. Below is a list of riders we know have doped in 2008:
|Patxi Vila (ESP)||Testosterone|
|Maximiliano Richeze (ARG)||Stanozolol (steroid)|
|Giovanni Carini (ITA)||EPO|
|Paolo Bossoni (ITA)||EPO|
|Manuel Beltrán (ESP)||EPO|
|Moisés Dueñas (ESP)||EPO|
|Riccardo Riccò (ITA)||MIRCERA|
|Emanuele Sella (ITA)||MIRCERA|
|Dmitry Fofonov (KAZ)||heptaminol|
|Maria Moreno (ESP)||EPO|
Since the above list was compiled (courtesy of Wikipedia) there have been 3 more positives announced, Stefan Schumacher, Leonardo Piepoli and Bernhard Kohl bringing the unofficial total to 13. At this point I can't confirm if any of the above 3 have requested B-sample analysis or not.
Compared to previous years its seems more riders have been caught due mainly to the combined efforts of the Union Cycliste Internationale(UCI), World Anti-Doping Agency(WADA), International Olympic Committee(IOC), various national anti-doping agencies and event organisers.
The sport of Road cycling falls deeper and deeper into the abyss each time a new rider is found to have cheated. Or at least that's what much of the media would have us believe.
In my humble opinion as a cyclist and a fan of professional cycling we should all be celebrating the fact that each time a cheat is caught it not only means one less cheat in the sport but also shows to the world and particularly other cyclists that it's getting more and more difficult to get away with it.
Unfortunately that's not how many people, mainly outside of the sport, as well as most sponsors see it. Cycling is seen by many to be a sport full of dopers. In the past all but the most niave would have had to agree but these days and especially this season we have seen a significant shift in the way the various sports bodies and the teams themselves are tackling the issue of doping. Garmin-Chipotle, Team Colombia and Team CSC-Saxo Bank are some of the teams leading the way when it comes to investing in internal testing. A fresh approach to tackling the problem of drugs in sport was taken recently when Roche Pharmaceuticals, makes of Mircera, Continuous erythropoitin receptor activator (CERA), a new class of third-generation EPO, worked with WADA on developing tests for Mircera before it became available on the market. The very high profile consequence of this relationship has seen the likes of Ricco, Sella, Piepoli, Schumacher and Kohl all test positive for the use of CERA.
How many other sports can honestly say they have invested in similar extensive stratagies for tackling use of drugs. Apart from some of the more traditinal Olympic sports such athletics and swimming most having only scratched the surface of the problem. If you look at the USA's favourite big three sports, Football, Baseball and Basketball it's well known drug use is going on but governing bodies, teams and most fans would rather keep their heads stuck in the sand and deny its happening.
Cycling has started to face the reality of drugs head-on. Let's applaude and support this approach and hope in doing so it encourages other sports to follow it's lead.