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Athletics star says "warped and damaged" sport could damage the Olympic brand...

The Olympic athletics star Daley Thompson has called for cycling to be banned from the Olympics, saying that the "warped and damaged" sport has the potential to tarnish the reputation of the Games.

The 54 year old double gold medal-winner Thompson went on to slam the UCI for their legal action against against journalist Paul Kimmage, who reported that they had covered up positive tests from Armstrong.

Thompson said: "The governing body are a disgrace. Suing people who report on the sport, and put it in the papers? Well, this whole subject isn't going to go quietly away as the evidence mounts up. I hope that he [Kimmage] sues them straight back for what they've done to him."

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Thompson said he would like to see cycling placed back in the "hands of people who actually care about it - the people who come from the grass roots."

He added: "The whole UCI are clearly not fit for purpose. I don't know if they're allowed to, but it really is the sort of thing where the IOC should be able to step in and say, "Hold on a minute. If you want to be a part of our family, you need to sort things out".

"I don't know if they have the power to do that but they should. I know there are links but the Olympics is a very special thing, it carries a lot of weight and it should use its influence.

"There should be sanctions against cycling being a part of the next Olympic Games unless they put their house in order. I want drug cheats thrown out, never to return.

"I'm not defending them, but we need to look at how things developed so that they could cheat in the first place. Sanctions against cheating athletes are essential but they also need to be applied against seemingly complicit governing bodies.

"I don't think people who take part in cycling, the competitors and the people at the grass roots who go out at the weekend on their bikes just for the sheer love of it, feel any sort of connection or even confidence in the people who run their sport, and that's terrible.

"The two sides, the governing body and the competitors have grown so far apart that it has become a disgrace and it's not fair on cycling. The loser is the very sport they're meant to be protecting and we should always remember that it's not the people at the top who own the sport, not the people in the nice offices and the big, flash hotels.

'It's the cyclists who are looking at the reputation of their sport suffering, and it's not right."

While Thompson himself has always been vehemently anti-doping, athletics as a sport has been historically far from clean. At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, doping was so prevalent in the sport that six of the eight finalists that lined up to run the 100m race would fail drugs tests themselves or be implicated in their use during their careers, including Ben Johnson, Carl Lewis and Linford Christie.

Ben Johnson subsequently told CNN: "You only cheat if no one else was not doing it. I was aware of what other people were doing in the field. I just did it better than anyone else. It doesn't make you a fast runner ... It was my training regime that was better than the rest of the world. My training was tailored for Ben Johnson and my coach was a genius. Now the whole world is using my program."

It was a further 12 years before WADA was set up, and even more recently Marion Jones admitted steroid use as she prepared for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, in which she won five medals.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

49 comments

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nbrus [293 posts] 3 years ago
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Why not just make doping legal and level the playing field?  4 19

You won't ever stop doping while there's an incentive to dope ... people will find new drugs and better ways to cover it up.

A lifetime ban for dopers and a reward for anyone that reports someone who is suspected and later found to be doping might act as a strong deterrent ... but there will always be some that will take the risk.

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redbeard497 [6 posts] 3 years ago
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Yeah, and athletics - totally clean...  31

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Super Domestique [1596 posts] 3 years ago
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redbeard497 wrote:

Yeah, and athletics - totally clean...  31

Exactly! Kick out athletics too!

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onlyonediane [156 posts] 3 years ago
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Always like a knee jerk reaction,true the UCI may not be fit for purpose, but do you penalise the vast majority?

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Paul J [839 posts] 3 years ago
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nbrus: Those who want doping to be legal can go set up their own "Doped-Cycling Federation" and setup races. There's nothing stopping them, at least in countries like the UK and USA. E.g. Armstrong can still and has competed in bike races and tri-athlons that don't sign up to anti-doping.

However, many athletes would prefer not to dope. It can have serious health risks. Both high-consequence risks, such as death (too much EPO; bad blood transfusions; aggressive, accelerated cancers from abusing hormones such as EPO, testosterone, etc), as well as more insidious and higher-probability health problems that can arise from continuous abuse of steroids and hormones, such as calcium-depletion in bones leading to premature osteoporosis, suppressed adrenal and immune system function leading to a wide variety of possible problems (e.g. otherwise fit people being completely floored for months by viruses that we nearly all carry and usually don't bother us; auto-immune disorders; etc).

The list goes on and on, it's literally as long as the side-effects lists in the advice sheets that come with the substances being abused.

Many people feel that we shouldn't be forcing our young sports-people into having to dope in order to pursue their dreams and make use of their talent. Many people feel athletes should have the option to compete clean. That means you need to provide sports with incentives and measures to discourage unhealthy, unnecessary, risky medical intervention - so that those who want to compete clean have a venue where they can have a decent chance. This is why many sports bodies, including ALL that are affiliated with the IOC (directly or indirectly) are signed up to the WADA Code.

Maybe those measures are imperfect. Maybe it needs to be improved. However, there are very good reasons as to why we should try to provide doping-free venues for sports.

The dopers can setup their own sports. And they do, body-building has doping tolerant and intolerant factions apparently; baseball in the US seems to tolerate doping; there are cycling races without doping controls; there are credible allegations that some major sports like football and tennis are ignoring their own PED doping problems.

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Morpheus00 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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I wouldn't be throwing stones from the Athletics glass house if I were Thompson. I suppose it's got him his first few column inches in decades, which must be nice for him. I can't be mad at him though because there'll always be a special place in my heart for Daley Thompson's Decathlon on the C64...

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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If Daley Thompson thinks the UCI are unfit for purpose (agree there), what about the IOC? They're quite happy to have Pat McQuaid as their representative on the board of WADA. And as for clean Track and Field not wishing to have its good name sullied, well please...

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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Paul J wrote:

nbrus: Those who want doping to be legal can go set up their own "Doped-Cycling Federation" and setup races. There's nothing stopping them, at least in countries like the UK and USA. E.g. Armstrong can still and has competed in bike races and tri-athlons that don't sign up to anti-doping.

However, many athletes would prefer not to dope. It can have serious health risks. Both high-consequence risks, such as death (too much EPO; bad blood transfusions; aggressive, accelerated cancers from abusing hormones such as EPO, testosterone, etc), as well as more insidious and higher-probability health problems that can arise from continuous abuse, such as calcium-depletion in bones leading to premature osteoporosis, suppressed adrenal and immune system function leading to a wide variety of possible problems (e.g. otherwise fit people being completely floored for months by viruses that we nearly all carry and usually don't bother us; auto-immune disorders; etc).

The list goes on and on, it's literally as long as the side-effects lists in the advice sheets that come with the substances being abused.

Many people feel that we shouldn't be forcing our young sports-people into having to dope in order to pursue their dreams and make use of their talent. Many people feel athletes should have the option to compete clean. That means you need to provide sports with incentives and measures to discourage unhealthy, unnecessary, risky medical intervention - so that those who want to compete clean have a venue where they can have a decent chance. This is why many sports bodies, including ALL that are affiliated with the IOC (directly or indirectly) are signed up to the WADA Code.

Maybe those measures are imperfect. Maybe it needs to be improved. However, there are very good reasons as to why we should try to provide doping-free venues for sports.

The dopers can setup their own sports. And they do, body-building has doping tolerant and intolerant factions apparently; baseball in the US seems to tolerate doping; there are cycling races without doping controls; there are credible allegations that some major sports like football and tennis are ignoring their own PED doping problems.

Well written Paul. Totally agree. Daley Thompson makes some very valid points. He hit several nails on the head. However, I would not go so far as to say that the IOC should barr the sport from the Olympics. That would suggest that a swift change could never take effect and that is simply not true. We the people want the change right now! If that means we have to lop off a few heads from Governing bodies then so be it. If there is a sufficient groundswell of public support, we will demand a new Management at the ICU to include stricter codes/protocols at team level. Or vote with out support and chequebooks!! This would naturally have to include doubling the resources of WADA to implement a new more effective testing process and a sufficiet distance from the ICU. They should have been the forerunner and catalyst in modernising procedures. The grass roots participants will naturally move forward unabated but more confident. In order to compete any level, we do not have to awash our bodies full of drugs. The legal action against Paul Kimmage issimply an ICU distraction. I say, we should draw our broad swords and chop the head off the dragon. Good bye Mr Verbruggen and Mr McQuaid!

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jimmyd [107 posts] 3 years ago
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So is the 100m sprint also banned?

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stumps [3187 posts] 3 years ago
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Morpheus00 wrote:

I wouldn't be throwing stones from the Athletics glass house if I were Thompson. I suppose it's got him his first few column inches in decades, which must be nice for him. I can't be mad at him though because there'll always be a special place in my heart for Daley Thompson's Decathlon on the C64...

Totally agree, glass houses etc etc.  39

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Paul J [839 posts] 3 years ago
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Seoige: Re making the tests more effective: The only thing that can really be done is to test more often. You'd have to test athletes much more often, e.g. at least weekly, but ideally twice daily (because, e.g. r-EPO can metabolise within 12 hours). However, this has significant practical problems.

This USADA case has shown that analytical testing on its own is not sufficient to provide reasonably dope-free sport. Analytical testing alone catches only the most stupid and careless, allowing most of the dopers to claim "Never failed a test".

What USADA has shown is that anti-doping efforts will need to consist of broad investigations. Investigations that make use of a wide-range of sources of evidence, from analytical, to testimony, to financial and communication records. Further, these investigations really need state-level powers of coercion behind them. Both to compel people to testify under oath, with the risk of perjury and gaol if the person lies, as well as to force the disclosure of evidence. E.g. much of the testimony came about because riders were forced to testify under oath, due to a criminal investigation. Much of the other evidence, the emails and payment records, came from criminal investigations, e.g. in Italy.

Without these powers, the ADAs are pretty toothless. Limited to testimony and evidence which co-operative people in the sport are willing to provide. Pretty much only Italy and France are at all serious at a state-level about really tackling sports doping. The UK, USA and other countries (NL? AU?) don't really do this, unfortunately. Perhaps we need these countries to enforce health legislation more strictly - or bring in laws if needed.

Also, how do the medical doctors get away with giving prescription drugs to athletes for non-medical reasons? Why are they never struck off by their professional bodies?

tl;dr: Write to your political representative (MP, TD, MEP, MLA, etc) and ask that something is done about investigating doping in sport and enforcing health and prescription drug use/trafficking laws. Write to your medical licensing authority to ask them to enforce rules when it comes to dodgy doping doctors (ethics, prescription abuse, etc) - (e.g. the GMC in the UK).

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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what a stupid thing to say, it isn't anything to do with the olympics.
Let's also ban the 100 metres cos of the Carl Lewis thing, grugs are in almost sport, thomson you fool.

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Raleigh [1665 posts] 3 years ago
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Karbon Kev wrote:

Let's also ban the 100 metres cos of the Carl Lewis thing, grugs are in almost sport, thomson you fool.

Well said, clearly we are in the presence of a great rhetoric.

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lushmiester [170 posts] 3 years ago
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My first point is that much of this storm has been created by things that happened in the Armstrong era. That is not to contend that doping is and sadly will forever be an issue in cycling. However, I note that The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) would consider holding a doping amnesty across all sports and I assume that would be linked to a truth and reconciliation commission across all sports. The implication is two fold.

1. Doping is more serious an issue in other sports than perhaps we realise and that the cycling community with its particular blend of individual and team effort and ethics and a moral vigilante mentality (a good thing) is just more vulnerable to doping and exposure. Cycling looks harder for transgressors (both in the positive and omerta sense) and is harder on itself than say cross country skiing or football.

2.That WADA are looking for a way to implement new rules for monitoring or sanctions or management or any combination of these. Depending on the nature of these a clearing of the decks might be needed. Certainly there are new challenges (there always will be) for the anti doping agencies. The challenge that instantly springs to mind is Gene doping which has been on WADAs radar for some time. I would suggest their guidance on genetic testing for selection purposes of athletes as an example of their concern.

Daley Thompson makes some valid points, yet his solution has all the hallmarks of a knee jerk reaction. He might have chosen to contend that if no one is willing to dope then there would not be systems that support doping, a problem that first emerged in athletics if I remember. At the time I would imagine some were calling for the expulsion of curtain countries from the olympics , now we have some people calling for the expulsion of cycling. However, the issues of doping is more dynamic than that. Dopers create systems and systems create dopers and one sport influence another weather in or out of the olympic movement.

Faced with a cheat a simple solution is tempting and on occasions called for. But in dealing with the persistent canker of doping anti doping agencies have to be as more sophisticated in their techniques and more subtle in their management than the cheats. They also have to hold to all the moral principles that the cheats have given up or believe do not apply to them. This is even more the case now than it was in the past.

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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Karbon Kev wrote:

what a stupid thing to say, it isn't anything to do with the olympics.
Let's also ban the 100 metres cos of the Carl Lewis thing, grugs are in almost sport, thomson you fool.

It is quite intelligent Karbon, it comes from a legislative point to you. He is not suggesting for one moment anything concrete just poking the fire on tentative proposals.
Quiet smart really.Be my guest my friend you go for him before I do,,,  1 It is all productive discussing ideas and options.

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pepita1 [175 posts] 3 years ago
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Words have come out of Mr Thompson's mouth before really thinking about what he wants to convey...conveniently forgetting about the doping that occurs in Athletics. UCI does need to examine itself and find out why they failed to discover the "doping ring" within the peloton. Maybe they r too focused on saddle tilt and skin suit material?

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TheBigMong [212 posts] 3 years ago
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You can't attack a "sport" because of people that use drugs within that sport. The fact that the UCI and many national so-called anti-doping agencies have failed to do much to curb illicit drug use within the UCI-sanctioned races over the past 20 years actually shouldn't have ANY bearing on the Olympics whatsoever. The IOC is perfectly capable of imposing their own system to combat drug usage, and they should be able to weed out users if that is really their goal.

It seems to me that as of late, Olympic competition is just a periodic selection of the top professional athletes, nothing more. There was a time when professional sport wasn't so lucrative, and professionals weren't even allowed in the Olympics. Now the floodgates have been opened and half of the events seem to have a "Dream Team" of millionaire athletes from one of the big Western countries. Well, at that point you are pretty much stuck with accepting whatever level of doping or other unsportsmanlike conduct is allowed in that professional sport, UNLESS you step up to the plate and put stricter controls in place on your own. But, much like the UCI, the IOC is primarily interested in viewership (money). And they have decided the best way to get the most money is to have the big names there, regardless of whether they are competing on a level playing field. It's a short sighted goal but one that ensures the folks running the show right now get the most out of it, at the expense of generations to come.

To single out cycling simply because they have actually cracked down on a rampant problem is ridiculous. Even if the cycle continues and clandestine doping programs start to develop again, the fallout from the USADA/Armstrong case and the Ferrari case will wipe out enough doping teams and individuals that it would take a hell of a lot longer than 4 years for anything on this scale to be in place again. So the 2016 Olympics could very well be the cleanest group of cyclists to compete since the 1980s. What a stupid time to pull it from the table.

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djpalmer32 [77 posts] 3 years ago
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As others have said 'atheletics clean', football, tennis. I heared that a certain female British Olympic hurdler tested positive for doping.

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 3 years ago
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I think the point is being missed here.

He's not saying kick out cycling because cyclists dope. IN fact he's not saying kick it out at all, he's saying there should be some sanction on their participation i.e. it should be conditional on them cleaning up their act.

And his target is not the cyclists it is the authorities who many people think are complicit in the culture and practice of doping, and do not have the will or the skill to eradicate it.

He's not the only one to think that - look at Rabobank's reasons for pulling their sponsorship.

That's why the argument that Track and Field athletes doped is not relevant. Yes they've done it and yes some countries are better than others at prevention but there isn't the same suggestion that the IAAF has at best ignored and at worst nurtured a widespread culture of doping. As a governing body they are not tainted in the way that the UCI is.

Frankly I think this is a good thing. McQuaid is up for re-election soon and the structure of the UCI is such that it is very difficult to get rid of the leadership. It depends on a small group of officials who frankly have a vested interest in not rocking the boat - not unlike FIFA (or the IOC itself).
Only the thought that chucking McQuaid overboard will stop them from being swamped will lead to any change at the top, so if Daley wants to talk up a storm then good for him.

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belgravedave [263 posts] 3 years ago
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Daley is (apart from being a top geezer who took on the East Germans and won with virtually no support from anyone) bang on right. We're all cycling fans so cannot look at this in the same way as the general public. The governing body is a laughing stock and should be replaced, while this is ongoing yes road cycling should withdraw from the olympics.

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petejuk [23 posts] 3 years ago
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My thoughts are that the more unashamed the investigation of this sport the more it indicates an intention to cure it of its ills. From an outsider looking in, it does look like the sport is in turmoil. This is not the case. Much is being done to change things and I do believe there is a new generation of clean riders coming through. I wonder how honest and truthful other sports are- there are drugs being abused in all sports and I believe there are a great many sporting authorities turning a blind eye, just as the UCI have done. Operation Puerto uncovered other dopers in other sports, when will they be sanctioned?
I agree whole heartedly with Daley Thompson. Professional cycling should be able to show a clean bill of health to the IOC before the next Olympics but it shouldn't be the only sport.
Furthermore, the UCI has no credibility and needs to go. end of.

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SideBurn [890 posts] 3 years ago
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Do you think that Daley does not realise that only cycling has a state of the art drug testing regime? Many sports including Tennis and Football do not even do blood testing let alone blood passport. In the Olympics only 6 sports had blood passport testing, the rest...who knows what they are doing?

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doc [167 posts] 3 years ago
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"To almost every problem there is a simple solution, which is usually wrong". Read the Thompson report (remember it's in the Daily Mail, well known for accuracy and truth....).
Yes we had a problem, yes it is getting cleaned up, yes other sports choose not to have a problem (money talks?).
Change the UCI management - to what, and who with? Before you start firing people there have to be credible replacements! Perhaps the BC President might be a good UCI president, but then would he want it, or indeed anyone else?
One old theory is that anyone who wants to be prime minister should immediately be removed from any chance of achieving their ambition, something which could apply to a lot of positions!

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spokeydokey [10 posts] 3 years ago
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Daley Thompson's point is valid. He's not suggesting that cycling should be banned from the Olympics, rather that the IOC be used as threat to the UCI to get their house in order. The worry being that the UCI isn't answerable to any higher authority, and could get away with destroying a sport that it is their sole responsibility to protect.

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antonio [1103 posts] 3 years ago
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' UCI does need to examine itself'
Biggest joke yet!!

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michophull [127 posts] 3 years ago
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Cheeky bugger. Thompson was a nobody; a jack of all trades and a master of none.

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SideBurn [890 posts] 3 years ago
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Up until recently the basis of the case against Lance was that he beat the dopers so he must be a doper  39 If Daley Thompson beat the East Germans who were legendary for their doping  39

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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I understand where you are coming but I do not agree on prolific testing. However, it would be hard to fault the system employed by London Olympic commitee whatever that may have been. If the great Senator of Wisconsin was to suggest any changes then might I suggest adopting protocols similar to immigration and sanction the host teams. To the team management, we would say, if a member tests positive, you will also bear the grunt of appropriate sanctions and we will check out your financials as to how much grunt you bear. We could implement these procedure through UCI (No Verbruggen or McQuaid thank you) allow them a 10 % commission and send on the money to WADA. It is a more balanced approach. The more they cheat ,the more money WADA gets and the less they cheat, the less we need such rigorous testing protocols. There has to be some sort of balance my friend. No one and I mean no one condones draconian action.

I appreciate and agree with you that some performance drugs have a short memory span. As long as they are prevalent on the day and we catch the outstanding performances, we will be fine. We can also test on and off the field of play.

I will accept that USADA had an uphill battle proving their case and lord knows, the Justice department were of no help. They have sufficient powers as a body. I think they have enough to do the job and obviously shown do it well. We do not need more legislation, we simply need to implement the existing one.

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Seoige [104 posts] 3 years ago
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TheBigMong wrote:

You can't attack a "sport" because of people that use drugs within that sport. The fact that the UCI and many national so-called anti-doping agencies have failed to do much to curb illicit drug use within the UCI-sanctioned races over the past 20 years actually shouldn't have ANY bearing on the Olympics whatsoever. The IOC is perfectly capable of imposing their own system to combat drug usage, and they should be able to weed out users if that is really their goal.

It seems to me that as of late, Olympic competition is just a periodic selection of the top professional athletes, nothing more. There was a time when professional sport wasn't so lucrative, and professionals weren't even allowed in the Olympics. Now the floodgates have been opened and half of the events seem to have a "Dream Team" of millionaire athletes from one of the big Western countries. Well, at that point you are pretty much stuck with accepting whatever level of doping or other unsportsmanlike conduct is allowed in that professional sport, UNLESS you step up to the plate and put stricter controls in place on your own. But, much like the UCI, the IOC is primarily interested in viewership (money). And they have decided the best way to get the most money is to have the big names there, regardless of whether they are competing on a level playing field. It's a short sighted goal but one that ensures the folks running the show right now get the most out of it, at the expense of generations to come.

To single out cycling simply because they have actually cracked down on a rampant problem is ridiculous. Even if the cycle continues and clandestine doping programs start to develop again, the fallout from the USADA/Armstrong case and the Ferrari case will wipe out enough doping teams and individuals that it would take a hell of a lot longer than 4 years for anything on this scale to be in place again. So the 2016 Olympics could very well be the cleanest group of cyclists to compete since the 1980s. What a stupid time to pull it from the table.

A lot of your points make coherent sense but you have no end game and we desperately need one. I am indifferent to you in your debate because you draw no conclusions. There has to be a resolution at some point. UCI may appear powerful for now but it is you and I, the whole cycling fraternity and beyond that makes the ultimate decision. We live in a democracy and these people simply elected representatives. Right here and right now, we the people voice our opinion and make the changes.It is not UCI anymore as they have no credibility, it is us. And like Dylan Thomas  1 not Daley , 'we do not go gentle into that good night'

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