I’m getting sick and tired of hearing news reports on the “dirty” the sport of professional cycling. When will we hear how aggressive the sport is in trying to root out drugs. In fact, sometimes I think they are too aggressive. Just ask members of Astana and Comunitat Valenciana. When you get suspended for a total of four years for the first offence of trying to grow some hair using Propecia (thank God for the helmet rule), need permission for Neosporin, or can’t take allergy medication during the sprong classics, I would say we were tough. Heck until recently, cycling limited the number of cups of coffee!
Here are some facts that support my case:
Operation Puerto netted over 200 names of athletes. Only 58 were cyclists. What are the governing bodies of the other sports doing with the other 142+ athletes? In a word, nothing. The World Cup had the opportunity to take action at the beginning of this year’s tournament and declined to even look at the evidence. How many athletes were doping in that tournament? We will never know. Was it your favorite player? Don’t know. Rumors are 5 players from Real Madrid are in the files. This will stay a rumor. Are they cleaner than cycling? Again, don’t know. One thing I do know is they are not trying to clean up their sport. So, who is dirtier? There were also athletes in Dr. Fuentes files from tennis and track and field. We will never know if the reports of Rafael Nadal being a “patient” are true.
Now that is nothing to the blatant disregard for a clean sport in the US. Quickly I’ll go through the big three; Baseball, Football, and basketball.
Baseball just added amphetamines to the list. This after intense bargaining with the players union. This addition of one item gets them away from having to accept the WADA list which is 11 pages long.
Under baseball’s new plan, players are supposed to be tested twice in the season, including spring training, and then randomly in the offseason. Some players might not face an out-of-competition test. The great part is that the player gets notice!
My favorite part is the punishment. First offence is 15 days. If you are a dealer, it’s 90 days.
Basketball. All players are tested at least once during the four-week preseason. Players are given notice. Rookies are tested three more times, randomly and without notification, each season. Veterans are tested once during the preseason.
If a veteran tests positive, he is tested again during a season only if there is reasonable cause. A doctor or counselor from the league-mandated program determines whether there is reasonable cause. Testing only recently included steroids. Until then, it was for “hard” drugs like heroin, not performance enhancing drugs. Penalties include a five-game suspension for a first positive steroid test, 10 games for a second and 25 for subsequent offenses. Since the NBA began testing for steroids in 1998, three players are known to have tested positive.
Football prides itself on its policy. Here it is. Each year, the NFL tests for recreational drugs. Players are given a specified date and plenty of advanced warning. If a player fails a test for recreational drugs, he must have a serious addiction problem. Even if he fails the test, he is given a second test before he is suspended. Not a Second test on the first sample, a whole new test. Plenty of time to clean up. The league treats recreational drug use as a medical issue and wants to get the player some help at that point.
That is not the case with steroids. The NFL has taken a much tougher stance here. On the first positive, a player is suspended for four games. He is suspended for six games following a second positive, and a third positive will result in at least a one-year suspension.
I for one will stick with cycling. I believe it is one of the cleanest sports. But I can’t prove it because no one else is looking at theirs.
I’d really like your comments on this post. I am getting a fair amount of silent traffic.