Pointless dopers

June 16, 2011

The UCI recently announced that the points scored by riders coming back from a suspension will not count towards their team’s total for the first two years following such suspension. I think that’s a good move, as I mentioned on twitter, although some questioned whether it would make any difference and whether it was fair for the rider (you’re either allowed to participate or you’re not).

Here’s my thinking:

  1. I’m all for protecting riders’ right to work, etc. See my views on that here. So once you come back from a lengthy ban (my views on that here), you should be allowed to earn a living again. It’s very difficult to avoid that anyway given the prevailing labor laws.
  2. That said, it is completely reasonable that the sport protects itself from damage such a rider could cause. These riders have already screwed up the team ranking with their dirty points once, no reason why the sport should allow them to do it again. Especially now that the team ranking is so important, affecting decisions about licenses and race participation. I know that first-time offenders also mess up the ranking, but that’s a much tougher problem to solve. In the meantime, let’s do what we can instead of waiting for a miracle solution to solve everything at once.
  3. Not having the points count towards the team ranking makes a rider less valuable to a team manager. So salary would be a bit further depressed (it’s already a bit depressed because the demand for such riders is restricted to certain teams). That’s a better penalty than the concept of paying back 1 year of salary, which has turned out to be virtually unenforceable.
  4. Aside from the depressed salary, it would also make team managers think twice about rehiring a rider at all. Right now, managers with – let’s say this nicely – an ambivalent attitude towards doping are almost encouraged to hire ex-dopers because they are cheaper and “reliable” in all the wrong ways.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or on twitter!

2 Responses to “Pointless dopers”

  1. Matthew Says:

    I completely agree. I am still reeling from common sense that has (I must presume!) infiltrated the UCI by mistake. This would be a great step forward and would be a big deal in eliminating the structural incentives to dope.

    Still not sure what you can do about the first round offence, but in some way nullifying the points there seems to be sensible – albeit fraught with problems. Perhaps some kind of points deduction – make it hurt – for the team for an athlete testing positive, it has to be an absolute number of points (a percentage would bias the bad teams toward doping – less to lose and all that). This would further push ‘ambivalent’ managers toward taking a more proactive anti-doping line with the riders.

    I think what is key in this proposal to it’s fairness, and the fact that it makes common sense, is that the rider is held accountable, but the team responsible.

  2. James Vaughan Says:

    I think in using the terms ‘doper’ and ‘doping’ in cycling we’re not fully reflecting what is happening; riders are ‘cheats’ and are ‘cheating’. If we want clean sport, we should use clear language.

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