Does cycling have a bigger problem with doping than all other sports? No, according to a survey of 2014 positive tests that shows cycling in fourth place last year.
According to the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) there were 16 positive tests in cycling last year, including 13 road cycling cases - 3 World Tour riders, 2 Continental Pro riders, 7 Continental-level riders, and one female rider.
Those figures put cycling in fourth place behind athletics’ 95 positive drug tests, which made the multi-discipline sport by far the worst offender. Baseball, with 62 positive tests, came in second and weightlifting followed with 28.
It’s worth noting, however, that despite 13 road cycling positives, only three of those were uncovered at the top level of the sport.
The MPCC’s aim, according to their website, was to “to better situate cycling compared to other disciplines” when it comes to cultures of doping. To achieve that they have used a dataset derived from from official anti-doping agency and sporting federation communications that confirmed positive doping tests and suspensions, dismissals, or self-suspensions where required.
The data does not, however, include suspensions that have been issued for offenses other than a direct positive test for a banned substance. So, suspensions for riders who are found to have irregularities in their Athlete Biological Passport (ABP), like those that resulted in British rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke’s suspension, are not included in the MPCC study.
Relying on official confirmation may seem like the best way of going about gathering this sort of data, especially in a sport like cycling where such confirmation is required. However, such rules are not enforced universally, so cross-sport consistency is an issue.
The MPCC are aware of this potential shortcoming, but have noted that cycling is an exception. On their website they have written: “Identifying cases of doping is not an easy task and is subject to discretion if required by their respective international federations, some do not advertise doping cases in their discipline.
“Cycling, in contrast, reveals each positive test. Our numbers are therefore based on proven cases in 2014, according to official communications federations and anti-doping agencies, etc.”
Elliot joined team road.cc bright eyed, bushy tailed, and straight out of university.
Raised in front of cathode ray tube screens bearing the images of Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong, Elliot's always had cycling in his veins.
His balance was found on a Y-framed mountain bike around South London suburbs in the 90s, while his first taste of freedom came when he claimed his father's Giant hybrid as his own at age 16.
When Elliot's not writing for road.cc about two-wheeled sustainable transportation, he's focussing on business sustainability and the challenges facing our planet in the years to come.