Thursday, August 30, 2012

How "clean" is cycling today?

I have made it no secret that I do not like talking or writing about doping. The topic bores me, especially since the overwhelming majority of people with an opinion (myself included) don't know what they are talking about, so it becomes a useless exercise of who can quote the most Cycling News articles. That being said, sometimes the topic is unavoidable.

The latest chapter in the Armstrong circus has, once again, given people plenty to talk about. One of the things I keep hearing is how much better the sport is now; how clean cycling is, especially compared to the 90s. Is it? Well, let's see.

I went through all 18 UCI Pro Teams and checked for known offenders. Now, this part is important: This is NOT meant to be a comprehensive all-encompassing list. In fact most of it was done by memory. I'd go through a team's roster and I'd check any name that sounded "suspicious," but I think it gives us a good measure of how many of the people in the peloton today have had their proverbial hands dirty. Of course the list couldn't possibly contain everyone who has cheated, or is currently doing so. There was a lot of cases (Rui Costa's for example), that were positively in the gray area. Let us agree to take the list with a grain of salt the size of Cipollini's ego.

What did I learn? Well, some people seem to want life-time bans for any offenders. I learned that if we did that retroactively, we'd lose a whole lot of sports directors and a few more active riders. Oddly enough, though, the biggest thing I learned was that the situation isn't really good, or bad. A "glass half full" kind of person would say that the list is very encouraging. It's not very long, most of the people on it are part of past generations and most of the younger guys are keeping their noses clean. On the other hand, a pessimist will say the list is pretty long and it doesn't include all the guys (some of them young) that haven't been caught. Also, it's pretty sad that as much "we hate doping" we still have all these people involved in the sport.

This is not Inner Ring, so take it for what it is: a rough list of people who cheated in the past that are still involved at the Pro Team level. I have to admit, I was shocked at how short it turned out to be. My amazement can't be a good sign.

Note: I didn't find any offenders in the ranks of Lotto - Belisol or Orica GreenEdge.

Ag2r La Mondiale
DS ‪Laurent Biondi‬: Arrested in France in 2005 because of his involvement in the Laurent Roux affair.
Jimmy Casper: Tested positive for steroids in the 2008 Tour.

DS Guido Bontempi: Former patient of Dr. Ferrari.
Dmitriy Fofonov: Tested positive for heptaminol in the 2008 Tour.
Andrey Kashechkin: Tested positive for blood doping in the 2007 Tour.
Evgeni Petrov: Tested over the legal 50% level of haemetocrit in the 2005 Tour.
Alexandre Vinokourov: Tested positive for blood doping in the 2007 Tour.

BMC Racing
Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio: Never tested positive, but have been suspended twice by BMC for their involvement with "doping scandals," especially the Mantoba investigation.

Euskaltel – Euskadi
DS Álvaro González de Galdeano: Tested positive for nandrolone in 2000.
Mikel Astarloza: Tested positive for recombinant erythropoietin during the 2009 tour.

FDJ – BigMat
Manager Marc Madiot: Never tested positive, but has admitted to taking amphetamines.
Yoann Offredo: Suspended by French Cycling Federation for violations of the whereabouts rules three times in an 18-month period.

Garmin – Sharp
Manager Jonathan Vaughters: Admitted in 2012 to doping during his career.
Thomas Dekker: Tested positive for EPO in 2009.
David Millar: Admitted to using EPO in 2004.
Alex Rasmussen: 18-month ban for missing three doping controls.

DS Christian Henn: Admitted to taking EPO in 2007.
Denis Galimzyanov: Tested positive for EPO in 2012.

Lampre – ISD
Danilo Hondo: Tested positive for carphedon in 2005.
Alessandro Petacchi: Tested positive for salbutamol in 2007. Later acquitted due to "medical reasons." Also, named by Italian police during the Mantova investigation in 2010 and a patient of Dr. Ferrari.
Michele Scarponi: In 2007 admitted involvement in Operación Puerto, but denied doping.

Liquigas – Cannondale
Ivan Basso: In 2007 admitted involvement in Operación Puerto, but denied doping.

Marzio Bruseghin: Left out of 2011 Giro squad for possible involvement in the Mantova investigation.
Rui Costa: Tested positive for Methylhexanamine in 2010 (accidental ingestion).
Alejandro Valverde: Suspended in 2010 after DNA proved his blood was seized in 2008 during Operación Puerto.

Omega Pharma – Quickstep
Manager Patrick Lefevere: Admitted taking amphetamines during his professional career.
Iljo Keisse: Tested positive in 2008 for cathine and a masking diuretic.
Levi Leipheimer: Tested positive for ephedrine in 1996.

Manager Erik Breukink: Abandoned the 1990 Tour during the "PDM Affair."

Radioshack – Nissan
DS Kim Andersen: Tested positive in 1987, and in 1992.
Daniele Bennati: Tested positive for betamethasone during Gent-Welvegem in 2005.
Fränk Schleck: Tested positive for Xipamide in the 2012 Tour.

Sky Pro Cycling
DS Sean Yates: Tested positive for illegal substance in 1989.

Team Saxo Bank Tinkoff Bank
Manager Bjarne Riis: Admitted to using EPO in 2007. Also a patient of Dr. Ferrari.
Alberto Contador: Tested positive for clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour.

Vacansoleil – DCM
Björn Leukemans: Tested positive for artificial testosterone in 2007.

And there you have it.

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