Some Notes On Doping, Plain and Fancy

Oct 7 2009

velodopeGood news, this morning: despite tweets of ill portent, the AFLD announced no new doping positives from their retesting of a select group of riders at the 2008 Tour de France. Of course, the Frenchman just couldn’t let a press opportunity go without dinging the UCI, blaming the lack of positives at this years Tour on the the governing body’s bungling, rather than crediting to a cleaner—or more careful—peloton.

But according to Thomas Dekker, none of that should matter because EPO doesn’t work. Far be it for me, a rider who’s never doped, to correct the Dutchman, but taking EPO only once in December 2007 (as he’s claimed), seems like a poor way to increase performance during the actual racing season, and very unlikely grounds for dismissal from your team 9 months later.

In fact, perhaps the most striking doping story of the past 24 hours comes out of Houston, where a young (22) amateur cyclist was busted for a whole host of hormone modulators. Rather than the young age or comparatively low level of competition—we’ve all heard Joe Papp explain how things were at the amateur levels in the bad old days, right?—what surprised me was the fact that he was tested in the first place, and that he never mentioned a thing about it.

USA Cycling has a fairly complete set of results, for the rider, dating back over five years. They seem to reveal what I would consider a fairly normal career trajectory for a clearly talented rider transitioning from mountain to road. Certainly his performances this year—at least on paper—don’t seem to raise any flags for me. Maybe—riders good enough to be tested feel free to weigh in—Cat 1s and 2s go through out-of-competition controls more often than I think?

Strangest of all, despite having a decently up-to-date personal blog, a Twitter account, and even a team blog, not a word appears about a test, communicating with USADA, or accepting a suspension. It’s strange, considering certain riders make a point of tweeting every single control. I tried to get in touch with him via Facebook, but never heard anything back—though he certainly had no problem yelping to VN’s Charles Pelkey.

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