Chris Boardman calls for one year bans for teams whose riders are caught doping

Harsh measures called for to restore cycling's credibility after Armstrong scandal… harsh words too for Pat McQuaid and the UCI

by Tony Farrelly   October 25, 2012  

Chris Boardman (copyright Simon MacMichael).jpg

Chris Boardman has called for WorldTour teams to be banned from the sport for a year if any of their riders test positive for performance enhancing drugs. He also described the UCI as a mess and was equally scathing about its president, Pat McQuaid.

Speaking exclusively to road.cc in London today, Boardman said the evidence gathered by the USADA of organised and sustained doping surrounding Lance Armstrong was "a massive blow for cycling, just when things have been so positive following on from the lovely summer of sport at the Olympics and Brad winning the Tour."

He also called on cycling's law makers to seize the opportunity presented by the Armstrong scandal to push through tough measures  - statements of intent aren't enough to restore credibility," he said.

"Personally I've always been in favour of life bans, but they are very hard to enforce.  I really believe in the concept of making the risk greater than than the reward. For cycling to become credible whatever comes next has to have proper teeth."

Boardman's solution is an immediate one year ban for any WorldTour team if one of its riders tests positive.

"You have a single positive and you're out for a year.

"The implications of that are huge. The sponsor is going to have a clause in the contract and the team will have contract with the rider saying 'if you're caught for doping you're going to be penniless.' So the rider's got no incentive to do it, the team's got no incentive to do it. The sponsor is going to police the team, and everybody self polices.

"The penalties are so harsh for everybody in the chain. and that's the kind of thing when you've got the ProTour and it belongs to you, it's the kind of harsh measure you can push through."

Boardman believes that this moment of weakness for the sport caused by the Armstrong revelations is exactly the time when the UCI could get teams to sign up to the sort of strong measures they would usually shy away from.

However whether the current leadership commands the authority within the sport to push through such changes remains in doubt. Amongst the evidence compiled by USADA in its case against Armstrong were details of payments from the rider of $125,000 to cycling's governing body, mot of which the UCI later spent on a blood analysis machine.

Amongst the rider testimony given to USADA were claims that the UCI leadership covered up a suspect test for EPO.

Boardman was equally trenchant on the subject of the UCI, describing cycling's world governing body as "a mess" and while he fell just short of saying that the UCI president, Pat McQuaid should resign, the implication was clear - the Irishman's time is up as the head of world cycling - or it should be.

"There has to be a world governing body, and it's the UCI. It’s a mess right now and how we fix it I don't know, but in most companies when things go badly wrong, people are so emotional about it. They need to see some change and generally the person who leads it resigns,” Boardman told road.cc.

Pressed on whether he was saying that McQuaid should go, Boardman responded:

"Pat McQuaid staying in his position after this… it doesn't give you a great deal of credibility."

42 user comments

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You may have a point, TheHatter, but it's easy to criticise anyone who didn't make a stand at the time. Plenty of hacks could have done (it could be considered their job) but the vast majority, like John Wilcockson, were sucking up the hype like there was no tomorrow and actively discouraged dissent while others, like the Comic's ex-editor Andrew Sutcliffe, dared not print anything critical. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Returning to Chris... If he had said this sooner do you not think he would be demonised throughout cycling and in all likelihood threatened with litigation? Consider the thoroughly unpleasant experiences of those who dared to stand up to Armstrong and speak out - Christophe Bassons, Betsy Andreu, Emma O'Reilly, Greg LeMond as well as David Walsh and Paul Kimmage. Would you risk your career, and maybe your home and your mental and physical health, to do that?

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1940 posts]
25th October 2012 - 21:39

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Can't see the whole team banned for a year but I think losing their points and invites for the big events would be plausible... .

posted by londonbrick [25 posts]
25th October 2012 - 21:40

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I'm not sure it's possible to say with certainty that Chris was clean. He ended up with hormonal-related problems, including osteoporosis - normally extremely rare in fit young men. Rare, except for one group: Fit young men who abuse steroids. Chris either was unlucky enough to be clean and develop a rare problem while ALSO being in a profession that had a significantly elevated incidence of such problems due to doping, OR he wasn't that unlike the others..

We can't know, but we can assign probabilities.

posted by Paul J [582 posts]
25th October 2012 - 22:03

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TheHatter wrote:
Simon E wrote:
Chris raced clean throughout career, in a very 'dirty' peloton.

True, but he waited more than ten years before speaking out watching others be bullied (Kimmage, Lemond, et al) and only breaks his silence now.

As someone else tweeted in relation to all this:
"All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing". (Edmund Burke)

Kimmage is a doper so not fit to be mentioned in same respect as lemond

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [183 posts]
25th October 2012 - 22:12

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Paul J, I agree with a lot of what you say on the road.cc forum but... NO! No, no, no.

And in conclusion...

No.

posted by Mat Brett [1854 posts]
25th October 2012 - 22:45

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tony_farrelly wrote:
I think its collective responsibility that Chris is talking about rather than collective punishment - and to be fair it is something that he has been talking about for a few years.

It's probably the best way to progress at the moment. The system puts all the responsibility on the rider, the team has no incentive to check the rider is clean. OK they lose a rider but sure as hell there is another waiting in the wings - unless you're Saxo Bank.

If a team could show that they took all possible precautions against the rider taking PEDs then that could be mitigation but not release from all responsibility, perhaps leaving a fine or banning from the next race.

Sponsors also have to look at themselves. Teams are under pressure to get results, the sponsors want exposure but no risk. They have to encourage the teams they sponsor, through contracts, to prevent doping. Partly through long term deals that mean the teams don't feel pressured to get results at certain races and also through administration and organisation which it seems so many teams really lack.

Finally the UCI points that go with riders has to stop, it is just making the matter worse.

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
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posted by ragtag [154 posts]
25th October 2012 - 22:51

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Chris Boardman ended his career with a hormonal related problem but if you check back you'll find that he started that career with that same hormonal condition which eventually caused him to retire because the only effective treatment for it would be steroid based - hardly the result of doping during his career then!

In spite of what some people say not all pro cyclists from that era were doping.

And of course not all amateurs raced clean.

I also believe that no-one really doped to level the playing field, those who doped did it for advantage and to perform better than they would otherwise.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [220 posts]
26th October 2012 - 0:13

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There are plenty of ideas of a way forward and many have something going for them.

In Essence all focus on two factors the doping itself and the management of the UCI. Most likely there needs to be both but also a long hard look needs to be taken at the UCI itself.

It has been shown how those who wish will find a way to do so will, only possibly getting court some years later when analytical test catch up with doping techniques or others tell their story for whatever reasons. Hence the arrival of biological passports but these are as yet not an exact science. Chris makes a valuable contribution to this banning teams for one year or as others have said making it a contractual obligation to ride in neutral jerseys if one member of a team dopes and would add a very visible collective responsibility element that has so far been missing, am am sure there are other ways of achieving the same effect by altering how UCI points are deducted from a team and over what period should a rider deduction be count.

When it comes to the UCI most of the forums fire is reserved for Pat McQuaid and there would appear in my view to be no place for someone who knew what was going on but would appear to do have only ever allowed the minimum possible to be done to appear clean, even if these actions were more than any other sport had down the measures were knowingly not up to the task and additional approaches should have been implemented. The consequence was that only the incompetent doper would be court and thus there was a perverse incentive to organise doping. That is how cycling managed to get to this point.

Having said that The structures of the UCI are probably not up to the task of managing modern cycling with all its variants and interest groups. I am sure that there are people out there that would wish for Pat McQuaid's job. There is always someone with such an ego but that this the problem the structure is that poor that only someone with a dictatorial nature and self deluding ego is going to want the job. Ultimately the federations that make up the UCI need to sit down and re-constitute the organisation removing of the apparent contradictions and confused responsibilities within its structures. This now has to be done If any future leader is going to have a chance of bring cycling truly into the light not just leave a sport I like many other love hanging around in a false dawn.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
26th October 2012 - 1:43

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Shay cycles: If he started with it, that'd clear him. Have you got a citation for that?

posted by Paul J [582 posts]
26th October 2012 - 7:46

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whoopee dee one year team ban, big fluffin' deal ...

posted by Karbon Kev [670 posts]
26th October 2012 - 8:06

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TheHatter wrote:
Maybe I missed it but I don't recall Boardman ever using his position as GB's best known cyclist to ever speak out on drugs.
It feels a bit disingenuous when past riders, even clean ones, suddenly find a voice about doped riders.

To be fair he's probably been asked about nothing else for weeks. I don't think someone in his position as one of the highest profile cycling "celebs" in the wider media would get away with not having an opinion on doping. Thinking

posted by chris75018 [95 posts]
26th October 2012 - 8:33

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Anything that makes it less attractive to sponsors is not a good thing. They will vote with their cheque books and go else where.

posted by mattsccm [246 posts]
26th October 2012 - 8:48

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Nice to hear a view from Chris on the matter...can you imagine him in charge of the UCI...

posted by NeilXDavis [111 posts]
26th October 2012 - 9:14

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I wonder how realistic asking sponsors to be involved in policing teams would really be. Team sponsorship is generally a marketing exercise, and in our case, a product development program, as well. We're a big company, but there are a lot of smaller companies that play roles in team sponsorship. I don't think we are in the best position to expertly police teams to ensure that they race clean.

We could certainly pull sponsorship with immediate effect, but I doubt we'd know the first thing about how to monitor a team for the use of PEDs. We make bikes, not tests for stimulant use.

And, if anyone knows what it's like to be lied to about sponsored riders and teams being involved in PED use. and the backlash that results from all of it, it's us.

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posted by TrekBikesUK [101 posts]
26th October 2012 - 9:18

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TrekBikesUK: there are specialist companies who will do anti-doping monitoring and provide reports - basically run a private "blood passport" programme. You could make use of such a condition of sponsorship. Slipstream (who run the Garmin team) use such an agency.

If I had the money to sponsor a team, I'd also make it a condition that the raw blood passport data for the whole team would be made publically available at the end of each season. That would be really useful to anti-doping science. You could talk to Michael Ashenden, noted anti-doping scientist (SIAB.org.au) about the best way to sponsor an anti-doping team!

posted by Paul J [582 posts]
26th October 2012 - 9:49

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TrekBikesUK wrote:
if anyone knows what it's like to be lied to about sponsored riders and teams being involved in PED use. and the backlash that results from all of it, it's us.

I can understand that and wouldn't want to be in your shoes after the amount of money and energy invested into Armstrong.

Perhaps there are questions your parent company could have asked much sooner, but Lance sold a massive number of bikes for Trek so it suited them to turn a blind eye to what was going on while it suited their ends.

Trek Bikes' behaviour towards three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond from 2001 onwards didn't show the company in a favourable light, regardless of how one might feel about Greg (the only American to have won the Tour, and has done so 3 times). I worked out years ago that Lance Armstrong was not a good role model so I said I'd not be buying any Trek bicycles.

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posted by Simon E [1940 posts]
26th October 2012 - 11:03

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Congratulations to Trek. You have made a significant step and one that the likes of Nike or Oakley have not made. By entering into the the conversation regarding the use of PEDs there is gain for all you gain by affirming the companies position by engagement which suggests you are concerned as much for the sport you as you are for the balance sheet obviously the two are linked. All too often companies have a policy position but no apparent commitment beyond this, it therefore appears as a business decision based solely on brand image and sales not a moral position.

Cycling gains by having a position stated in an open channel, which allows all to see that the anti doping movement is broad.

As for your comment, I understand your concerns, particularly as you may feel that you have little or no control over weather or not an individual (or a team) uses PEDs but carry consequences of their PEDs use. Under Boardman type suggestions those consequences become even more severe and therefore increases business risk and are not something on face value is likely to attract a sponsor. However, at this time these are suggestions and the practicalities are not sorted and concerns are doubt surmountable or at least can be placed where they are tolerable, if such a route was to be chosen.

As a cycling fan and rider of a Trek bike I made my decision to buy a Trek despite the companies long association with Armstrong. A person who I never felt said anything about cycling that resonated with me.
Hide sight is a wonderful thing but perhaps as a company you should have more confidence in your products than to have such a high investment in one person for marketing. Making greater connections with the grassroots of cycling as part of marketing (along with pro sponsorship at some level) does perhaps not have as much immediate impact as association with the latest 'hero'. Yet over time such an approach is more sustainable offering reduced risks, building believe and commitment within the cycling community and can contribute to product development.

How you divide up your marketing budget is your decision be it long term or short term, the consequences and benefits of your decisions are yours.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
26th October 2012 - 12:46

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chris75018 wrote:
TheHatter wrote:
Maybe I missed it but I don't recall Boardman ever using his position as GB's best known cyclist to ever speak out on drugs.
It feels a bit disingenuous when past riders, even clean ones, suddenly find a voice about doped riders.

To be fair he's probably been asked about nothing else for weeks. I don't think someone in his position as one of the highest profile cycling "celebs" in the wider media would get away with not having an opinion on doping. Thinking


Thats a fair point - I think my gripe is that he never spoke out before.
I take SimonE's point that he had a lot to lose is valid but that was the whole problem of the Ometra. He's doing alright out of his bike range, commentating gigs and BC job so why rock the boat?
Bearing in mind the *worst* thing that could happen is he's ostracised from cycling and has to get a real job like the rest of us I think more could have been expected of him in the past.

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posted by TheHatter [810 posts]
26th October 2012 - 12:48

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No Paul, I don't have a citation (reference) for that.

However at that time I had been racing myself and following his career with some interest for a long time and his naturally low testosterone levels were common knowledge long before his bone condition was diagnosed. That was an era where testosterone hit the headlines a few times because testing found some riders who had much higher than expected levels at some times but not at others.

Boardman did have the option to apply for dispensation to use testosterone which could have been done to a level where he was still within the limits - BUT he also understands the demands that racing places on the body and the effect that medication could have. He therefore made the sensible decision, rather than risk his health further, to retire from racing so that his condition could be treated properly.

Not the actions of a person who would happily dope and risk their health to win.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [220 posts]
26th October 2012 - 13:42

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I'd be interested in how Chris Boardman's master plan would be applied in a case like that of Marcel Six. Unfortunately, we do not live in a world of absolutes, where automatic harsh punishments bring about desirable results, and I think a more pragmatic approach is needed.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
26th October 2012 - 13:53

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Trek claiming the high moral ground. Surprise

Yes, of course, you're the real victims here - how could we have forgotten.

Is this the new marketing spin to salvage something from the Armstrong years.

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posted by abudhabiChris [515 posts]
26th October 2012 - 14:29

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Shay: But that was perhaps mid-way through his career then? At which stage he'd already had ample time to abuse steroids. I know his condition was known about before the end of his career, because it's referred to in his hour record film.

It doesn't take *that* long for steroid abuse to start causing your body to break down (though, osteoporosis takes times). Quite young top cyclists (e.g. still in teens, or very early twenties) have suffered badly from it.

That he quit doesn't really tell us anything other than that by the time he got into his early 30s, the osteoporosis was bad enough he couldn't risk cycling anymore. I don't think it tells us whether or not it was caused by doping or a natural, but quite rare condition.

posted by Paul J [582 posts]
26th October 2012 - 14:31

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Taking drugs either to win or be a top team player is a considered personal action, a total ban for life would almost certainly put an end to any such considerations.

antonio

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posted by antonio [947 posts]
26th October 2012 - 15:52

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antonio wrote:
Taking drugs either to win or be a top team player is a considered personal action, a total ban for life would almost certainly put an end to any such considerations.

Sorry Antonio, that is just not the case. British Olympians have taken drugs knowing the penalty was a life ban from the British team.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
26th October 2012 - 16:48

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Would give a disgruntled rider the ability to take down his team. "You stuffed my career, now I'll stuff yours."

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1333 posts]
26th October 2012 - 18:31

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Just stop it! Right now. Chris' medical problems are well documented & always have been. Do you not think that his epic 'Chuckle Bros' style battles with Graeme Obree would have been effortless for him if he was doping, or are you also saying that Graemes famous marmalade sandwiches were also 'loaded'????

Currently going slower than I'd like...

posted by stealth [182 posts]
26th October 2012 - 20:45

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Agree with the following statements:
" Though it seems that CB is jumping on the band wagon he has some very valid points and are definately worth looking at (take note UCI!).

If one person in a WorldTour team wants to jeopardise everyone else's livelyhood then they must have balls the size of whatever. "

" Would give a disgruntled rider the ability to take down his team. "You stuffed my career, now I'll stuff yours."
As for myself i think " Trek " in ALL it's guises deserves ALL that is coming it's way ! Cashing in on the " Myth " was GOOD for business , now enjoy the BACKLASH ,folks , you earnt it and deserve !

Those reading my Blogs will have seen that i Advocated " Team Bans " some Years ago ! My take was 2 Racers in a three month period led to a Suspension , and progressive periods with Monetary penalties along the way !

As all knows Winter is arriving in Swiss Mountains with snow and ice , normal ? This year Aigle is suffering Avalanches of " Mud " , the likes of which will stick , regardless of the efforts to shift it ! External Investigation by heinous's mates ? Forget the idea phat , Chris b. knows that you deserve to be " tarred and feathered " and Eire will not be a destination where you could seek to avoid the rancour of Cycling Fans !

David Walsh & Paul Kimmage are Irishmen that you sought to diminish and your description of flandis & shamilton comes from a person at several ranks below their status in the eyes of Cycling Fans . On a scale of 1 to 10 , they are , perhaps 2 . You are about -17 !ist the deeper you dig yourself ! In future write down what you will say ! Remember last Monday , when you said that a phone call was NOT Contact ?

Readers take time to ADD to the " Paul Kimmage Defence Fund ! It ain't over , UNTIL the phat man sings in PAIN !

Greg LeMond suggested giving up some lunch money , thanks to him and " His Dossier " becoming available to Paul , those on the UCI Board at the Friday meeting decided to attempt ousting the " prats of aigle "!

No cash ? Sign the Change.org Petitions :

http://t.co/oFWgsHA7

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [383 posts]
27th October 2012 - 9:40

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Wrote to Chris Prudhomme , 17th oct ( tourdafrance.blogspot ) recommending that he take the initiative at this year's presentation of the 100th edition of " Le tour "! ASO were recommended to " Choose " which Teams they invite , BY a demand that ALL Racers and Support Staff , issue a personal declaration that they do not indulge or encourage PED Products !

What clearer evidence is needed to BAN for Life , any that contravene their " Self admitted Pledge "? Anyone in Cycling that does not wish to work at the ASO Events , can find some excuse , to avoid offering their " Pledge of Honesty "!

Chris was also asked to consider " Vacating Results " for the period 1990 to 2012 , since these are the " EPO Era " and thus 2013 would be the START of the period that Each Athlete is personnaly , and Team Support Staff also , are liable to Draconian Punishments !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [383 posts]
27th October 2012 - 10:12

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Pevious comment ( 10.12 )was in reply to drheaton at 21.16 of 25th oct ! Link /quote did not work !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [383 posts]
27th October 2012 - 10:31

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stealth: Well, Obree himself had an advantage in many of their encounters: He had an estimated 5 to 10%-power advantage through unorthodox positions on his bicycle. Yet a few others were able to beat him regularly even with that advantage (and thrash his times when they adopted Obree positions). Some have concluded that Obree wasn't quite an outstanding athlete because of that. If doping was the cause for Boardman's testosterone deficiency and his osteoporosis, then that would shed a new light on Obree's performances.

Again, I'm not saying Boardman doped. I'm saying there's 2 possibilities: 1. It was due to steroid abuse (corticosteroids, testosterone), 2. It was due to something else unrelated to PED abuse, i.e. natural causes. One of these is quite rare in active men, the other was extremely common in top-level cyclists back then.

We can't know which case Boardman falls into. If you can really disagree with that, you must be Chris Boardman.

posted by Paul J [582 posts]
27th October 2012 - 10:44

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