I was searching through some folders of stuff the other day and I came across this piece I wrote in 2013. It’s still relevant today ..
How the Game is Broken..
You often hear the phrase bandied about “Don’t hate the Player, hate the game” and it’s never been more relevant than in connection with cycling. The game of professional cycling (and De Gri is turning in his grave at me mentioning it as a game) is broken. The twin doping positives from the Vini Fantini team are showing up a true broken game, it’s raised more questions about how we treat people, teams, riders and how Professional cycling has to use up and spit out riders to make it all go round.
We expect riders to be caught if they are doping, yet we have nothing firmer than suspicions, inneundo and Secret Pro esque rumours. We hear time and again after someone was pinged that *the whole peloton were suspicious* if the whole peloton is always suspicious, well how come no one does a Xavier Tondo and reports anything to the authorities (simple answer, some of the authorities are broken too) – so how do we change this ?
Some say Life Bans are the only way to change this, but I disagree with this, I don’t think the envirnoment exists that they can be implemented fully. We’ve had rules, regulations and gentlemen’s agreements about returning dopers previously but when push came to signing a deal on the dotted line, no one blinked an eyelid when Ivan Basso was the first big name rider to re-sign for a WorldTour team instead of spending two years at a lower level. We have commerical interests determing how someone returns to the sport and at what level, not in a predefined manner. Life Bans are using a hammer to crack a singular nut.
What we have at the moment I agree is broken, we have dopers returning without showing faith, or rebuilding trust in them, we have Teams hiring ex dopers and letting clean riders go, we have silent ex dopers at management, coach, Sporting Director levels and no one really bats an eyelid. There’s a quote from Trent Lowe that has stuck with me from earlier this year
“I am convinced that to complete the workload I was given on an ongoing basis, one would have to dope in order to recover. I was not doping and therefore my health suffered a lot from such over training. Sadly I believe this scenario may still be ongoing in professional cycling, and I feel it still has a very long way to go.”
We can’t go banning cyclists for life when the sport is as broken as this, to paraphrase Floyd Landis the whole thing needs burning to the ground with the hottest flame possible and let it die. It seems that it is impossible to untangle the good, the bad, the good going bad, the bad trying to be good. For a fan how can they differentiate between a David Millar and Danilo DiLuca other than innuendo, twitter hearsay and dodgy rumours ?
It seems as if the Professional sport doesn’t have a doping problem it has a fundamental ethcis problem, it seems as if everyone operates on the attitude of well someone’s going to be screwing me, so I might as well screw someone/everyone else. We have teams that are only concerned with optics, to be seen to do the right thing, we’ve teams trying to do the right thing but failing, and we’ve teams not giving a damn.
If we you don’t subscribe to the Floyd Landis idea of burning the whole thing to the ground, what do I think we need to do ? We need to change our anti doping policy to a drugs policy, we need to look at the bigger picture than just the cyclist that uses, we need a review of the doctors involved in the sport, the sporting directors, the race calendar, the treatment of riders during grand tours, we need to let people see there is a belief in the system, be it the passport, be it the reporting system, be the legal system when it prosecutes.
We need a sea change from the top down for Professional Cycling to work, and this doesn’t mean a breakway league with tv rights for teams Mr Vaughters, it means a searing honesty to the sports faults and flaws, not a slow reveal when it best suits your commerical needs. It needs a different UCI – not just a different President – it needs a better model for young riders to come into the sport and be valued as young riders not some talent to be flogged for the greater exposure of some sponsor.
Who ever you are in the sport of professional cycling you have a duty to be honest and try make a single change to your sport to make it a better place after you leave than when you started. Don’t talk bullshit, don’t speak out of both sides of your mouth, don’t say one thing and practise another, reach out and try and make that change or face someone like Floyd burning the whole shit pile to the ground when you least expect it.
Trent Lowe Quote from – http://cyclingtips.com.au/2013/02/trent-lowe-life-after-cycling/