The Anti-Doping Circus

I'm dumbfounded by the news I read over on UTRider's blog: Ivan Mayo tested positive for EPO during the Tour de France, but subsequent testing of his B sample by two other labs came back negative so he will be allowed to race. Interesting, but nothing special until you compare Mayo's case with that of Floyd Landis. Both rider's tests were performed at the same French lab, but while Mayo's B sample was tested at two other labs (Belgium and Australia), Landis' B sample was tested at the same French lab. How does this make any sense? Especially since, from the beginning, Landis has charged the French lab of sloppy work that resulted in errors in his tests. Logically you'd think WADA would have Landis' B sample tested at other labs to make their case stronger. So why didn't they? An obvious mis-step like this invites speculation and distrust. And with Mayo's B sample tested at other labs, I'm sure we'll see a reaction from Landis and the cycling community. Get ready for the circus.

When the anti-doping agencies either don't have clear rules, or don't follow them uniformly, they look like witch-hunters. They must have explicit, defensible rules, and always follow them exactly, and always treat every accused rider the same - otherwise they loose credibility and they are viewed as just another squabbling player in the pro cycling soap opera.

Every screw-up by an anti-doping agency makes me care less about pro cycling. I can't say it's better to be ignorant of doping, but when the fight against doping is done wrong it makes the situation worse. They loose credibility with each case they bungle until, like the boy who cried wolf, no one believes them anymore. And the damage they do to the sport is far worse than any other scandal I can think of. So when the anti-doping agencies make accusations but don't have their act together, they're making a bad situation worse. Some say the fallout from this current "purging" phase is the price to be paid to have the sport clean in the future. But if the therapy cripples or kills the patient, more has been lost than gained and the course of action was wrong. "I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone." - The Hippocratic Oath

Dick Pound is the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). I feel his out-spoken (to put it mildly) crusading against doping is hurting his cause more than helping. He should shut-up and let the lab results do the talking. Read more: The Righteous Fury of Dick Pound (WIRED)

Ever wonder how much difference doping makes? A strong amateur rider tried some of the more common drugs and reports the results in Drug Test, an article that appeared in Outside magazine. If it made that much difference to an amateur, think how tempting it must be for pros who are always looking for ways to improve their performance.

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