National TT champ Alex Dowsett calls for drugs cheats to be banned for life

…but not you David, "Things were very different in cycling a few years ago, in Millar and before's era” says Team Sky rider

by Simon_MacMichael   June 26, 2012  

5 Alex Dowsett readies himself. (662x1000)

Team Sky’s Alex Dowsett, the reigning British national time trial champion who narrowly missed out a place on the longlist for the Great Britain Olympic squad earlier this month, has called for drugs cheats to be banned for life. However, the 23-year-old from Essex insisted that his comments were aimed at those committing such offences now, and not riders such as David Millar whose two-year ban came at a time when doping was perceived as rife in the peloton.

"I think it sends the wrong message out," said Dowsett in an interview with the Essex Chronicle, prior to Sunday’s national road race championships in which he finished second behind Team Sky colleague Ian Stannard.

"Things were very different in cycling a few years ago, in Millar and before's era,” he added. “So, I think those guys shouldn't be dealt with as harshly as we should be now. Now there is no excuse."I'm clean, I'm tested. I have to tell UK Sport where I am, where I sleep at night and where I am and they do turn up knocking at my door at all hours,” he went on. "I don't see why people should be let off. I mean a two-year ban is quite a light punishment.

"A couple of years for a cyclist whose career goes up to 35 or 36 that's not a great deal of time."

Dowsett’s comments follow the decision earlier this year of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)  to rule the British Olympic Association's lifetime ban for convicted dopers as invalid and unenforceable, due to its incompatibility with the World Anti-Doping Code (WADC), to which the BOA is a signatory.

Millar, who had previously been subject to that ban, is now free to compete at London 2012 and has been selected on the long list, and provided that the Scot, who broke his collarbone earlier this year, proves his fitness in the Tour de France appears to be a certainty to figure in the squad of five men for the Olympic road race, of whom two – Bradley Wiggins and Millar himself, most likely – will also figure in the time trial.

According to the Essex Chronicle, Team Sky and British Cycling race coach told Dowsett that he ninth on a list of 12 potential competitors – although by implication, that also means there are three riders ahead of him in the reckoning who are on the long list but will miss the final cut.

"Anyone in my position would understand maybe how I feel,” revealed Dowsett, but that's life. I have got nothing against Dave personally at all but I just think the rule being changed sends the wrong message out to kids.

"It's something that all sports are trying to deal with heavily and I thought that the consequence of cheating was that it stayed with you for life, rather than a two-year ban," he added.

In the past, the UCI has said that it would support four-year rather than two-year bans, and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which had challenged the BOA’s lifetime ban, has said it would welcome discussions about increasing current bans within the framework of the WADC.

Lifetime bans, however, are widely viewed as being open to challenge under human rights law since they would in effect prevent an athlete from carrying out their chosen profession, while the clear message from the CAS descision is that any divergence from the provisions of the WADC cannot be enforced, and that change has to be brought about through the provisions of the code itself.

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Lifetime bans, however, are widely viewed as being open to challenge under human rights law since they would in effect prevent an athlete from carrying out their chosen profession

This is complete and utter guff and whoever is falling for that is pathetic. I am a solicitor. If I get caught stealing clients' money I would quite rightly get struck off so that I could not practice again. My human rights do not allow me to practice as a solicitor after I have demonstrated myself unfit to do so according to the standards imposed by my regulatory authority.

(Or at least, I think that's right. If it isn't I'm missing out on a gold-plated opportunity to steal huge amounts of money...)

posted by BigDummy [273 posts]
26th June 2012 - 17:52

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Couldn't agree more with Alex Dowsett. Riders who get caught at the moment just deny everything and then return to the sport a couple years later.

posted by pjay [224 posts]
26th June 2012 - 18:18

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BigDummy wrote:

This is complete and utter guff and whoever is falling for that is pathetic. I am a solicitor. If I get caught stealing clients' money I would quite rightly get struck off so that I could not practice again. My human rights do not allow me to practice as a solicitor after I have demonstrated myself unfit to do so according to the standards imposed by my regulatory authority.

(Or at least, I think that's right. If it isn't I'm missing out on a gold-plated opportunity to steal huge amounts of money...)

David Howman, director general of WADA, quoted on Reuters last month: "As we go forward we've got to maintain a gentle touch with reality and reality is whatever rules are put in place must be able to sustain a challenge in international law and the appropriate courts, including courts of human rights," he explained. "For a first offence, (a four-year ban) totally impossible.

"When you look at lifetime bans they are already in the Code for second, or maybe third offences but for a first offense I would say there would not be one human right lawyer or sport lawyer in the world who would ever suggest that."

If you're a sports lawyer, maybe you should get in touch with him to express your disagreement - or perhaps not, since I suspect sports lawyers are doing pretty well out of the current regime, golden goose, eggs, etc Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7841 posts]
26th June 2012 - 19:41

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A little OT but related. While cycling last week I was having a think about the whole "drugs cheat" thing. Now I have and I still am totally opposed to this practise. I was thinking though about how there is so little fuss made of this in other sports, which was not a new avenue obviously. But then I got to think about "cheating" as an issue on it's own.

Does anyone call for a footballer to be banned for committing a professional foul? Why not, it's cheating? This sort of thing is even encouraged and I for one feel that they must almost practise their various methods. Suppose a player does the classic fall in the box, gets awarded a penalty and his team win the European Champions League. How does that differ from a rider taking drugs to win the Tour?

I am not condoning taking drugs for performance advantage and I know that (in theory) it is to protect riders health. Again, and I know it doesn't happen often, but what about tackles that seriously injure other people ruining seasons and very occasionally careers.

Having had these thoughts I can no longer call for life bans, not until other sports begin to punish their competitors for cheating in whatever form is applicable to that sport.

It will never happen, meanwhile cycling continues to be the media whipping boy and at the same time washes it's dirty laundry in public.

Come on all you footy fans explain why a "professional" foul is an acceptable form of cheating, I'm sure you will be queuing up, footy can do no wrong can it. (Other sports with cheats are available).
Devil

posted by 1961BikiE [80 posts]
26th June 2012 - 20:18

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I would include Millar in the ban - at the time he was banned he was of the new generation who were leading cycling out of the Festina affair, and EPO scandals. For him to dope to win the World Time Trial Championships was a massive blow to the sport

I will find it very hard to support the Team GB road team should he be included in it - although im sure they wont lose any sleep over this

posted by fiftyacorn [91 posts]
26th June 2012 - 20:39

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Now this boy has got the right idea!

But I do disagree with his not including Millar, who should have been banned for life after cheating by doping, rule change or no rule change.

posted by Karbon Kev [663 posts]
26th June 2012 - 21:08

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The whole "ban em for life" argument is based on the presumption that it would reduce the number of people cheating.

There is a long standing debate between whether the certainty of being punished or the severity of the punishment is more likely to deter offenders.

I've read plenty that argue, and I tend to agree, that where the likelihood of being caught is increased, offences are more likely to decrease than if the severity of the punishment received is increased.

An example of this in reality might be seen as the negative correlation between the use of the death penalty and decline in murder rates across US states. Murder rates are higher, on average, in those states that choose the death penalty than those that do not.

So maybe cyclists would be less likely to cheat, if they are more likely to be caught, rather than facing an extreme punishment. After all, in the pro peloton, your career could be over at the end of the season anyway.

posted by italiafirenze [68 posts]
26th June 2012 - 23:02

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1961BikiE wrote:
A little OT but related. While cycling last week I was having a think about the whole "drugs cheat" thing. Now I have and I still am totally opposed to this practise. I was thinking though about how there is so little fuss made of this in other sports, which was not a new avenue obviously. But then I got to think about "cheating" as an issue on it's own.

Does anyone call for a footballer to be banned for committing a professional foul? Why not, it's cheating? This sort of thing is even encouraged and I for one feel that they must almost practise their various methods. Suppose a player does the classic fall in the box, gets awarded a penalty and his team win the European Champions League. How does that differ from a rider taking drugs to win the Tour?

I am not condoning taking drugs for performance advantage and I know that (in theory) it is to protect riders health. Again, and I know it doesn't happen often, but what about tackles that seriously injure other people ruining seasons and very occasionally careers.

Having had these thoughts I can no longer call for life bans, not until other sports begin to punish their competitors for cheating in whatever form is applicable to that sport.

It will never happen, meanwhile cycling continues to be the media whipping boy and at the same time washes it's dirty laundry in public.

Come on all you footy fans explain why a "professional" foul is an acceptable form of cheating, I'm sure you will be queuing up, footy can do no wrong can it. (Other sports with cheats are available).
Devil

Fouls can be accidental and unintended... doping cannot.

(unless you get your beef source wrong haha)

posted by ALIHISGREAT [109 posts]
26th June 2012 - 23:04

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1961BikiE wrote:
Fouls can be accidental and unintended... doping cannot.

(unless you get your beef source wrong haha)

I think professional fouls are by definition deliberate. Though I may be wrong! Thinking

It is a very interesting question though. Perhaps it is to due with the covert notion of doping vs the overt notion of a professional foul? Also doping is premeditated and pro fouls are heat of the moment. So I guess the pro foul is more like a sticky bottle type of cheating which we would not expect a life ban.

posted by Manx Rider [18 posts]
27th June 2012 - 8:28

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Some interesting views on here.

What has annoyed me about the Contador case is the back dating of the ban. He should of been banned for 2 years earlier this year when the verdict came out.

posted by Darthshearer [141 posts]
27th June 2012 - 8:54

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Karbon Kev wrote:
Now this boy has got the right idea!

But I do disagree with his not including Millar, who should have been banned for life after cheating by doping, rule change or no rule change.

I'm sure Dowsett thinks that, but should he ever test positive through no fault of his own (contaminated food/supplements etc) he may change his tune...

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
27th June 2012 - 13:27

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1961BikiE, most football fans (every one that I know anyway) actually despise the way that footballers carry on these days. Professional fouls, diving in the box and all the playacting that the likes of Drogba, Ronaldo & Ashley Young get up to are regularly criticised by fans & commentators alike. I'd love footballers to be banned for cheating, it would help to stop a sport that I love from embarrassing itself so much

Like cycling, all others sports have competitors willing to cheat, management/authorities willing to let them and fans that want it wiped out of their sport.

And for the record I'm with Dowsett on this one.

posted by eric [48 posts]
27th June 2012 - 13:42

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drheaton wrote:
Karbon Kev wrote:
Now this boy has got the right idea!

But I do disagree with his not including Millar, who should have been banned for life after cheating by doping, rule change or no rule change.

I'm sure Dowsett thinks that, but should he ever test positive through no fault of his own (contaminated food/supplements etc) he may change his tune...


I'm with karbon kev on this one.

posted by fred22 [206 posts]
27th June 2012 - 20:39

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To those who want life bans I have two words - Diane Modahl. She was wrongly accused of cheating and it practically ruined her career. It took her years to prove her innocence.

A life ban is not the solution anyway because all sports (not just cycling) have a problem with illegal drugs and it would only push the problem further underground.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [275 posts]
28th June 2012 - 13:50

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The ban should be a punishment, not a deterrent to others, to punish a person is a about justice to overly punish a person is not just to that person. And to punish a person for reasons other than justice is immoral.

I hate doping and it thoroughly lessens my interest in racing when there is doubt as to whether the winner won on merit, but we all make mistakes and I also believe in giving people a second chance... 2 years is rather short though.

posted by kie7077 [419 posts]
28th June 2012 - 17:40

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