Research by the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) has found that despite its tarnished reputation, cycling ranks lower than a dozen other sports for cases of doping or corruption, including match-fixing, notified or reported during 2018.
It’s the fifth year that the organisation, members of which include 36 teams from the top three tiers of men’s cycling and five women’s teams, has published its credibility classification, and the first time that corruption has been factored in.
The MPCC says that its barometer, summarised in an infographic here, “only takes into account the cases that have been publicly revealed by the federations or the media. Among these cases, we only retain those concerning high-level or professional athletes.”
Track & field topped the list for the 12 months to 31 December, with 98 cases of doping plus four of corruption, ahead of baseball and weightlifting at 84 and 73 respectively, all of those cases related to doping.
Among the other sports that precede cycling, which lies in 13th place, three stand out for having a much higher number of cases related to corruption than doping.
Those are football, with 16 cases related to doping but 57 connected to corruption, cricket where the respective split is seven versus 27, and tennis, where there were six doping and 19 corruption cases.
Cycling, meanwhile, had 17 cases, all related to doping, 11 of those on the road, four in mountain biking and one apiece in BMX and on the track.
The MPCC said that despite having five years of data now, it was unable to determine any trends when it came to cycling.
“With 17 cases across all the disciplines, the figures remain basically the same as the ones of the last years,” it explained.
“Six cases involving World Tour and Pro Conti teams: it’s two less than last year, but still three more than in 2016. Concerning road cycling, there has always been a little more than 10 cases for the last five years.
“We can however be glad that no corruption case happened in our sport. Of course, cycling is not a sport with a lot money at stake, especially on betting sites. Football or cricket, for example, are way more involved in these issues.”
Explaining its decision to include corruption cases within its study, the MPCC said: “Financial wrongdoing, as well as match-fixing, are now part of our study. These cases, often revealed by the media, cause huge damage to the credibility of sport, as much as doping cases.
“Even though the number of corruption cases is lower than doping affaires, they definitely exist: we have identified 136 of them (across all sports) in 2018. These corruption cases are spread across 50 countries, but revolve around a dozen sports.”
The MPCC said that a rise across all sports in the number of doping cases over the five-year period was not attributable to an increase in doping, but instead demonstrated that “federations are now more likely to tackle their doping cases on the public scene, as they do with any other disciplinary action.
“There is also more transparency in how the anti-doping policy is lead. Five years ago, only 20 federations disclosed their doping cases. As of today, around 50 of them are doing so.”
It added: “The one actual trend we can identify is that cycling is getting further away from the top of our doping cases classification. Though, cycling fans must mitigate their satisfaction: this is not due to a drop in doping cases, but [is] mainly caused by this new transparency granted by the federations.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.