Happy Cycling?

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Cycling Australia and Australia’s anti-doping body ASADA are set to launch investigations after Matt White, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong, admitted to doping this weekend.

White has stepped down from dual roles as a national selector and as sports director for road team Orica-GreenEdge.

He released a statement from his personal email talking of his time in Armstrong’s US Postal Team:

“I am sad to say that I was part of a team where doping formed part of the team’s strategy, and I too was involved in that strategy.

“My involvement is something I am not proud of and I sincerely apologise to my fans, media, family and friends who trusted me and also to other athletes in my era that consciously chose not to dope.”

Cadel Evans with Matt White

This comes after the CEO of US anti-doping agency USADA, Travis T. Tygart released a statement on October 10 saying:

“The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

See the full statement here.

If you would also like to have a read of USADA’s ‘Reasoned Decision, download here.

As you’ve no doubt heard, Lance Armstrong has been banned from professional cycling for life – a result of USADA’s findings.

Initial allegations of White’s involvement surfaced when former US Postal teammate and disgraced Tour winner Flloyd Landis testified in front of USADA.

Landis said that he and White had shared testosterone and EPO in 2003.

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Let’s compare White’s admission at the weekend with something he wrote on the Orica-GreenEdge website earlier this year, just after the team made podium but lost out on a Tour de France stage win to world champ Mark Cavendish:

“As another Tour de France comes to a close, I marvel at what we have built here. Our main strength comes from our connection to one another. This is a very tight group. Regardless of results or whatever disappointments might have happened on any given day, the morale, dedication and focus did not waver. I have been involved with many teams in the past, and that’s something I have rarely seen”

Some hubris hey…

Orica-GreenEdge at this year’s World Road Cycling Championships.

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To start the discussion – what do we think of Cycling Australia Chief Klaus Mueller coming out on Friday and saying that doping in sport should be criminalised?

Here is a news report from Eurosport on that announcement.

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10 comments
  1. cashewsandorangejuice said:

    To answer your question, the obvious hypocrisy in Mueller’s comment regarding the criminalisation of doping is that he has refused to rule out future involvement with White, despite the former head coach’s full confession that he doped as a professional cyclist. He has made a strong comparison between White and Garmin-Sharp manager Jonathan Vaughters, who was also caught doping:

    “He’s (Vaughters) been such a vigorous opponent of doping in recent years, has set up a model program within the Garmin team to rid the sport of doping,” Mueller said.

    “It’s been decided that he ought not to be kicked out of the sport and we think that’s pretty analogous with Matt.”

    It seems a bit strange to me that Mueller would advocate that the full force of the law be used to tackle doping in cycling, but lack the courage to rule out White’s further involvement in Australian cycling. Surely a criminal is morally unfit for such roles?

    For me, the real question is: can a cyclist who doped as a professional redeem themselves by doing their bit to clean up the sport?

    • Ian said:

      I don’t know that I’d go so far as to label all criminals ‘morally unfit’ for a role in Australian cycling. After all, one of the purposes of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate and reform those who have broken the law.

      The worst offences command life imprisonment, but I’m sure we can agree that doping is not such an offence. So what are we to do with offenders who have served their time and been released? Relegate them to the margins of society?

      No, I say. White ought to be made to suffer consequences for his sins, and he’s suffering them now, whether one thinks them sufficient punishment or not—evidently Mueller thinks they could be stronger—but ultimately he must be given the chance, at least, to redeem himself. His experience and perspective can still be useful to Australian cycling, particularly as it seeks to destroy doping’s influence in the sport. To that end, I see no hypocrisy in Mueller’s position.

      As for whether doping should be criminalised, I note that Mueller is a member of the Victorian Bar, so I would be interested to hear him expand upon precisely what it is about doping that he feels amounts to an offence against the public. Is it the drug use per se? Is it the fraud? If so, perhaps existing provisions concerning narcotics and fraud could be redefined such that they cover doping offences, but on the other hand, the Eurosport story makes it sound like Mueller is simply exasperated by the lack of resources available to anti-doping agencies and wants help from the police. After all, it’s not as though they have anything better to do… Oh, wait.

    • The question of criminalising doping needs to be looked at in a broader legal context – are there already laws in place in Australia that make use of certain doping and performance enhancing drugs illegal. I find it hard to believe the Australian legal system doesn’t already have some sorts of these laws, isn’t it already an offence to use certain types of legal medications without prescriptions etc. I also think it is a bit hypocritical that CA has condemned drug use in the sport but hasn’t ruled out future involvement with White. No doubt 4 Corners will have an interesting report on it tonight.

  2. Julian said:

    The entire system needs an overhaul. Funding needs to be redirected towards anti-doping agencies, and instead of just the individual rider being banned, the entire team should face the consequences. This would create a panopticon-like effect, and make it much harder for individuals to cheat.

  3. Several current and former riders have come out over the weekend and said that the Armstrong years should be essentially stricken from the record, as doping was so widespread. I’m struggling to think of any precedent for this in regards to a sporting event on the scale as the Tour but it seems like the only option when you consider that something like the top seven ranked riders all tested positive in one year. Sad times. I really hope that the extent of evidence revealed in this report will deter others from risking it.

  4. With the way that cheating seems to evolve to stay two steps ahead of testing methods, there has been some talk of legalising doping, or splitting the competition into two separate doping/non-doping categories.

    Cycling as a legitimate sport has lost all credibility in the last decade, so it’s no doubt that people have started scrounging any sort of solution. This is a good article that argues that legalising doping would only widen the gap between competitors, mainly due to money being a distorting factor:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/13/doping-cycling-level-playing-field-fallacy?newsfeed=true

    They use a good analogy that says: “if you add money to legalised doping in sport, Goliath will always kill David.”

    By the way, in reference to your comment Wo-J: “Some hubris hey…” <- Armstrong's giant ego is just mind boggling. It reminds me somewhat of Eric Cartman in South Park's 'Fishsticks' episode, i.e. he is so engaged in his own bullshit that he probably believes it now!

  5. According to this article posted in the NY Daily News, there has been new evidence published by USADA shows that Armstrong and his team mates threatened and intimidated team mates to prevent their doping ring from being exposed.

    “The Armstrong myth was so lucrative that suppressing the truth came to require an endless behind-the-scenes campaign to bully and intimidate people into silence. Some of it bordered on gangsterism…. paranoia struck deep in the cycling world. It’s a small industry, and Armstrong was a transcendent figure, so powerful inside his sport that people feared for their livelihoods and reputations if they crossed him”.

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/zone-lance-armstrong-bully-downfall-article-1.1188512#ixzz29x078hYx

    This story just gets worse and worse, what a tangled web of lies and deceit. I find it particularly difficult to take all this in because I have always admired Armstrong for his courageous battle with cancer and important charity work. At first this felt like one big witch hunt, but with so much compelling evidence against him I guess it must be so…so disappointing and the fact that his charity Livestrong, which has done so much good for cancer patients around the world will suffer is saddest part about this story.

  6. What a huge day in sporting history today, with Armstrong being stripped of all titles since 97 and his lifetime ban from competition. I wonder what happens with all the prize money he won, will he have to pay it back do you think?

  7. Yesterday the UCI unveiled Pinocchio as the mascot for 2013 world championships. I thought this was a troll at first, but it’s legit. No joke, after facing some criticism of their choice of mascot the UCI have said:

    “Our Pinocchio is happy that his land, Tuscany, has been chosen to host the world championships of cycling. The outline is athletic and slim like a real rider.”

    I think that’s a bit of a stretch really. Bit of a gaff considering the recent Lance Armstrong doaping scandal if you ask me!

  8. tbag5 said:

    It is interesting how many people are getting exposed now. It is funny that now that the spotlight is on the sport that so many are coming out of the woodwork. Would be interesting to apply the same scrutiny to other sports, i wonder if it is so common? Seems like an easy logic jump to make.

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