Daley Thompson: Cycling should be banned from the Olympics in the light of Armstrong doping scandal

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

by Sarah Barth   October 21, 2012  

Lance Armstrong (pic courtesy Photosport International)

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.

 

48 user comments

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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.

Is it about a bicycle ?

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [464 posts]
21st October 2012 - 15:20

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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.

posted by belgravedave [151 posts]
21st October 2012 - 15:27

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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.

posted by petejuk [25 posts]
21st October 2012 - 16:54

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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?

posted by SideBurn [722 posts]
21st October 2012 - 17:17

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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!

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
21st October 2012 - 17:27

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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.

posted by spokeydokey [10 posts]
21st October 2012 - 18:44

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' UCI does need to examine itself'
Biggest joke yet!!

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [888 posts]
21st October 2012 - 18:57

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Cheeky bugger. Thompson was a nobody; a jack of all trades and a master of none.

michophull's picture

posted by michophull [90 posts]
21st October 2012 - 20:05

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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 Thinking If Daley Thompson beat the East Germans who were legendary for their doping Thinking

posted by SideBurn [722 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 4:16

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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.

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 5:18

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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 Smile not Daley , 'we do not go gentle into that good night'

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 5:23

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I think the Daily Mail should be banned.

posted by Wesselwookie [69 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 6:09

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DT performances were consistent and not erratic. There is no big drug culture in London amongst athletes, it is down to good coaches and a lot of hard work. When I was 7 at Sharks swimming club it was a 100 lengths of the swimming pool every night and you could not finish until you beat your time. Sharon Davies was there and what a swimmer. The girl was like teflon and put in twice the amount of work. Only reason I gave up was I had no goggles and blinded by the clorine. I could not even walk home I was blind(Thank you mummy for picking me up). Boxing is also not big into drugs. Another sport a lot of hard work. Cycling should be no different. It is a fantastic sport. First few kilometres chill the legs and wind up gradually. No big rush. By the end of the run you are chasing coaches and cursing the Council for not repairing roads as you hit 80 kmph.I may not win the lottery but I feel like a million dollars. Cars are impressed because you keeping up. It is a fun sport and I love it as a grass roots member. I want to see the pro tour and see cycling in the Olympics. To see Sparticus fall 4 km out at the Olympics was epic. We need our heroes and to cheer them on. I just do not want to see them all taking drugs. Is that really so hard to ask?

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 6:18

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Personally, I think cycling should ban the distracting sideshow of the Olympics and concentrate on races that matter.

There's no place for proper sport in a four-yearly festival of physical jerks and jingoism.

posted by JohnS [198 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 9:46

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Headline doesn't really match what he said, does it? It leaves out the bit where he said it should only happen if the UCI don't sort things out which which I think is quite a key part of it!

I suppose it makes for a better headline for you though.

thegibdog's picture

posted by thegibdog [58 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 11:27

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"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."

Slightly ironic that some of the comments here suggest that Daley's is some sort of knee-jerk anti-cycling reaction, when in fact it's the commenter(s) who are knee-jerking a little...

Think about it: We have all complained on here about the UCI, and lamented the fact that Paddy McQuid basically can't be ousted because a sport's governing body isn't really accountable to a higher authority with the ability to kick him out (or even force an enquiry for all the Lance bollocks). All Daley is suggesting, really, is that the IOC is a sufficiently big fish to do this for us, in terms of cleaning up the UCI: "Oi, Pat, f*** off now, or your sport will start to suffer, financially and otherwise, in a way that puts a BIG spotlight on you personally."

That's a far bigger stick than has been wielded so far, and just _might_ make him move over.

I wouldn't put the house on it, though.

That said, he needs to separate his disagreements with the UCI from those with WADA - his comment that dopers should never return isn't in the UCIs hands.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2559 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 12:52

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A has-been athlete with no discernible career, writing an article calling for a controversial move, in a newspaper that is known for being anti-cycling and reactionary.

Am I supposed to bite?

OK... Daley Thompson: fuck off back into obscurity, you dumb cunt.

posted by zanf [366 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 13:14

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zanf wrote:
A has-been athlete with no discernible career, writing an article calling for a controversial move, in a newspaper that is known for being anti-cycling and reactionary.

Am I supposed to bite?

OK... Daley Thompson: fuck off back into obscurity, you dumb cunt.

One, better a has-been than a never-was. A has been with Olympic medals, even better. We all grow older
Two, the DM has a reputation for liking sensational stuff in place of actual news, so no change there then, and quoting people well out of context.
Three, to descend into personal insult, abuse, and name calling, shows a stunning paucity of intellect and ability to put a cohesive argument. This adds nothing to any debate.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 13:55

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doc wrote:
zanf wrote:
A has-been athlete with no discernible career, writing an article calling for a controversial move, in a newspaper that is known for being anti-cycling and reactionary.

Am I supposed to bite?

OK... Daley Thompson: fuck off back into obscurity, you dumb cunt.

One, better a has-been than a never-was. A has been with Olympic medals, even better. We all grow older
Two, the DM has a reputation for liking sensational stuff in place of actual news, so no change there then, and quoting people well out of context.
Three, to descend into personal insult, abuse, and name calling, shows a stunning paucity of intellect and ability to put a cohesive argument. This adds nothing to any debate.

I dont disagree with anything you've said there.

When I posted it I was in a stroppy mood and allowed that to be the mode of expression and after some consideration decided to return and delete it.

posted by zanf [366 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 14:16

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notfastenough wrote:
All Daley is suggesting, really, is that the IOC is a sufficiently big fish to do this for us, in terms of cleaning up the UCI: "Oi, Pat, f*** off now, or your sport will start to suffer, financially and otherwise, in a way that puts a BIG spotlight on you personally."

The problem with this idea is that the IOC has never been serious about doping. In fact, it was WADA who had put heavy pressure on the IOC to retest old samples:

http://summergames.ap.org/article/ioc-doping-chief-rues-not-acting-soone...

posted by Aapje [143 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 14:18

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Aapje wrote:
notfastenough wrote:
All Daley is suggesting, really, is that the IOC is a sufficiently big fish to do this for us, in terms of cleaning up the UCI: "Oi, Pat, f*** off now, or your sport will start to suffer, financially and otherwise, in a way that puts a BIG spotlight on you personally."

The problem with this idea is that the IOC has never been serious about doping. In fact, it was WADA who had put heavy pressure on the IOC to retest old samples:

http://summergames.ap.org/article/ioc-doping-chief-rues-not-acting-sooner-retests-1

I can't ague with that, but neither did he to be fair, so his point stands.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2559 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 14:41

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The cynic in me wonders if this is just publicity for the newly re-released Daley Thompson's Decathlon on iOS and Android.

On your marks, set, z-x-z-x-z-x-z-x-z-x-z-x-...

posted by ped [147 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 18:13

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I think Thompson's words are ill-advised. Whatever is occurring in cycling is probably being mirrored elsewhere. I for one don't believe that Ben Johnson's record 100m has been beaten clean. I think the evidence is that the opposite is happening and cheating is prevalent in professional sports. I would be surprised if American Footballers achieve their size through diet and exercise, and there are few sports which would not improve with either the application of steroids or blood enhancement (even skill based sports are significantly easier if your oxygen intake is improved - imagine receiving a pass in football breathing heavily, and one where you are relaxed and breathing calmly. It makes a difference). And the Balco affair just went to show that the athletes know how to best the system because it was not the testing that caught them out.

I would be surprised if there is any agency out there that is particularly effective at catching cheats. At least with cycling cleaning house it brings with it the chance for change and hope for the future. Sponsors need to remember this.

I hope that as a result of this the baby is not thrown out with the bath water and it would suck.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [955 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 18:15

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I applaud your honesty. Harsh words are so lightly thrown.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [955 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 18:20

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Just imagine if athletics had a figure like Armstrong- someone who transcended the sport, and so popular that, if he were caught cheating, it would seriously damage the image of the sport and its ability to generate revenue. And imagine if he were on a successful team like US Postal, with other doped athletes who were also massively popular. I wonder if the IAAF would be keen to expose them?

posted by wild man [274 posts]
22nd October 2012 - 18:20

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At a guess Daley may feel like having a 'shit - spoty reference' after spouting that load of crap.
Using that logic sprinting, shot put, the hammer, basketball and of course weightlifting (which i personal exerience of) would be banned. Great athelete mind of goldfish.

To slo to live, to slo to die! ::-}

posted by OldnSlo [119 posts]
23rd October 2012 - 5:26

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Seoige wrote:
Boxing is also not big into drugs.

I know there are a couple of champions that would disagree with you.

Ricky Hatton's coke habit was a fairly open secret round Manchester for starters.

posted by farrell [975 posts]
23rd October 2012 - 13:16

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No i don't think he is that bright.I think he just hates cycling it seems to be a common theme with black athletes.How many do you see in cycle racing, off the top of my head i can think of one.The French track sprinter shame really because they make great endurance athletes which would work well in classic one day racing.

big mick

posted by big mick [162 posts]
23rd October 2012 - 14:48

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Think on Daley that's he's problem he does'nt think he just talks Drugs in sport ALL sport is rife face it at least cycling is trying to put it's house in order football tennis etc just bury there head in the sand.don't test hence claim to have no drug problem's.Yea right 250000 a week with a clean sport yea i'm sure. Devil

big mick

posted by big mick [162 posts]
23rd October 2012 - 15:03

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The problem is the governing bodies, USADA, IOC, UCI, WADA. they each have a political agenda and love of the media limelight.

I wonder how many main stream sports would disappear from the Olympics if we followed Daley Thompsons suggestions.

Right here goes - chuck out Cycling and Athletics as they have a history and oh include swimming in that as well as they have had some highly publicised doping stories over the years. Judo has had its drug problems. What else of yes Rowing, they have had no drug issues as bad as the above but there must be something going on for them to seem this clean. Gymnastics is another that has had a checkered past, trundle them out the doors as well. There have been simmering rumours regarding football so thats another one for the waste bin.

What are we left with rythmic gymnanstic, I am tempted to tie them in with gymnastics. Basketball, I read a couple of stories about doping in the NBA over the years lob them out. There are other associated sports that should go by mere association with some of the sports above such as syncronised swimming, netball etc

Now where was I whats left, oh, well, ahh um not much really. Then we can include the IOC's liking to employing convicted fraudsters like the hospitality guy caught in the multi million pound salt lake city scandal who was let of for shopping his mates and remarkably was still head of hospitality in London this year. Nice how things don't change.

This shows nicely that people are getting a little to specific in singling out Cycling and bashing it over the head with some serious large sticks. There is problems in many sports - some even manage to hide it quite well football being one, where the money is so great they couldn't afford to have anyone have a look at them. Others like cricket are downright absurd in there pursuit of doping. Banning Shane Warne for a direutic I though was quite humourous. I never realised that reducing you bodies water content actually help the performance of a spinner. What a strange world we live in.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [114 posts]
24th October 2012 - 20:10

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