The perfect doping crime

February 27, 2012

Contador’s case made me think of the perfect doping crime. This is not related to his guilt or innocence, but rather to the process he went through (most of it outside of his direct control, but a clever athlete could aim for these steps on purpose). There are three main types of perfect doping crimes.

  1. Don’t get caught. This is obviously the best one, clean and simple (pun intended)
  2. Get the case thrown out. Whether you are a soccer/football or tennis client of Fuentes or your buddies have political cloud, if you can somehow make the case go away before it comes to trial, I’d still award you the perfect crime badge (scout’s honor)
  3. “C+” (new and improved)

The C+ method is one that has been largely ignored to date but has the most potential for success for athletes who lack the skills to dope under the radar or the clout to get the case thrown out. It does however require some “local clout”, so small-fry Chinese cyclists need not apply. But there are plenty of countries where protecting the national interest is still common. Here is how the process works:

  • Test positive.
  • Get the federation to delay an announcement while you get your team together (the federation may even suggest some members for your defense team).
  • Get convicted or at least a recommendation to convict by your national federation when the pressure to come up with something becomes unbearable (make sure this happens in the off-season).
  • Appeal the conviction or get somebody else to question the process or whatever, but keep it at the local level (getting the national federation of your sport into a procedural dance with your NADA is the preferred route here).
  • Get the suspension overturned or the recommendation ignored when you want to race again in the early part of the season following season (for good measure, get your Prime Minister to chime in with a senseless comment).
  • Get WADA to introduce lots of experts, this allows you to study their arguments (which legitimately takes time) and introduce your own to to force WADA to study their opinions.
  • Go on a training camp to the country from which one of the CAS judges hails. If you can, do three training camps to cover all three judges.
  • Get some idiot to question the independence of the CAS tribunal based on your training camp choices, forcing CAS to delay the procedures further while they prove their independence.

If you can stretch this entire process to 24 months, you can be convicted for 24 months served retroactively in its entirety, meaning you will lose 24 months of results but you will not lose any salary, endorsements, etc. And you’re free to move on immediately. For those who think the salary claw back clause in your contract poses a problem, not to worry. Most of your income is in image contracts and endorsements which are hard to figure out, and the claw-back is likely unenforcible anyway.

28 Responses to “The perfect doping crime”

  1. Sander Says:

    You say: “not to worry. Most of your income is in image contracts”. However UCI anti-doping rules clearly state image right’s are part of the fine when a rider is sanctioned. Don’t know if these fines are actually paid by riders though.

  2. Tim H Says:

    Love it Gerard, and certainly appears to be the precedent laid out by Mr. AC. Think anything will change?

    • I think the only way forward is for doping cases to immediately be dealt with by central organizations, not first by the national federation. That cuts out the bias and it shortens the process. Better for the sport, for the fans and for innocent athletes (including those falsely accused).

      The way things currently sit, this can’t be WADA (they’d be flooded with cases), but ideally it would be an organization that is at that level and not connected to a country or to any particular sport.

  3. I think Pharm$trong went with option #2.

  4. Sisu Says:

    …and the perfect doping name: Alberto Clentador.

  5. Anax Says:

    The only thing annoying would be for your team, the lost of your points ! Maybee in the present case it s a good thing….

  6. SlapshotJC Says:

    There is nothing perfect about any doping offence Gerard they are all fundamentally wrong, however what no-one wants to address properly are the rules. A rider getting burned for an amount of a drug that you cannot physically measure is a joke, a process that takes more than 18 months is a joke, Lance Armstrong walking away from the sport he has ruined for the last 15 years scott free is a joke, the entire rules of the sport are a joke.

    If Berto tested positive through a supplement contamination as CAS decreed there needs to be a reassessment of those rules, to match the testing protocols of the companies that make these supplements, they have testing tolerance that are much much higher than anything CAS/WADA/UCI have on the books.

    Next, WADA currently have the British Olympic Association at CAS for the permanent bans on athletes who have had a positive because the additional sanction breaks the WADA code. In those terms so does fines, the inability for a rider to accrue points for two years after he comes back etc etc etc…the UCI are as guilty of Additional Sanctions as the BOA are.

    The UCI MUST make some changes and make them soon and they can start with McQuaid. The sport is rife with corruption and that needs sorted. Spending time going through the ins and outs of every bit of the Contador case minutiae is pointless because someone else who hasn’t written the right cheques to McQuaid becomes an issue. Maybe you should throw your hat in the ring

    • Not sure what you mean by amounts of drugs that cannot be physically measured, nobody, not even Contador’s lawyers, are disputing that the clenbuterol was in his body. So it can be detected without a shadow of a doubt, whether you call this a “physical measurement” or not. How it got there, that’s a different story.

      I think the defense has done a good job of making people think of 50 picogram as a tiny amount, but just because it sounds small doesn’t mean it just pops up in your blood by chance or that it isn’t important. I still don’t understand why the whole defense was based on this Spanish beef story which could not be supported in any way (no other cases, nobody else ate the steak even though it was an enormous piece, etc) instead of on the contamination theory, but who am I.

      The 2 years without points accrual will be an interesting one, it’s not directly comparable with the BOA situation, it doesn’t prevent anybody from being a living but it would affect the salary somebody would make post-ban. It’s a toss-up who would win that case.

      Anyway, no hat of mine will be thrown in any ring.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I think you are wrong with your contaminated supplements theory. There are several manufacturers that paid to test their stuff and are WADA approved label. And all contador teammates did not test positive during the season and they are probably using the same products provided by the team. And contador can’t prove the contaminated supplements. There is a very low percentage of positive due to supplements compared to the number of users and that could be explain by doping. And contamination is just too easy and it should not be tolerated to take supplements that contained illegal doping products with or without knowing from users.

  7. Harm Oosting Says:

    The biggest problem in cycling is: There is not enough money involved. You van run a professional cycling team for €10 miljon. An amount where Schumacher alone does not come for out of his bed. The same for tennis, motorracing etc. Do you believe they do not use anything? I do not.
    Strange is also that ASO is also organizing the DAKAR. event. Doping tests, never heard of

  8. tom hewitt Says:

    Apparently it’s amusing and entertaining for the “fans” of high power cycling to endlessly speculate on the degree of pharmaceutical enhancement of the competitors and vicariously assign them to an eternity in Hades for wrecking the sport. Great. But assuming that USA Cycling, the UCI, CAS, WADA, IOOC and all the other alphabet soup bodies are corruption-free is similarly silly. It is, however, easier to demonize an individual athlete than an organization.

  9. Larry T. Says:

    Nice piece GV! Until this type of scenario becomes impossible it’s tough to see how guys currently getting away with microdosing (though I’m sure they’re onto a better scheme by now) have any reason to stop cheating. As you say, taking the initial sanctioning function away from any national body is key, there’s simply too much conflict-of-interest there. McQuaid has mentioned this but is anything really being done towards making it happen?

  10. MaLóL Says:

    Dear Gerard,

    I think you are entering very moody terrain with this topic. It’s clear here that you are no medicine scientist, and you start this analysis just saying “Test positive”. You skip the whole important part of this case. I really agree with you in all you wrote, if it wasn’t because you missed the central and most important part. Thanks god any of your riders were not tested in the laboratory that tested Berto. The accuracy machinery to detect substances and the fact that 80% of 20 euro bills contain cocaine…

    You are clearly biased, and although I apreciatte that people of your kind can express their wrong opinion on this topic, as other have pointed, this was a suplement contamination, with such a low level that it brings to the table if all riders are tested with the same equipment, as there are only 3 laboratories in the world that can detect such a low amount, and only Berto samples were tested in that laboratory…

    • If I missed the important part, maybe it’s because I wrote about that before. This is maybe the 20th blog post on anti-doping, and a lot of them center around the rights of the athlete. I don’t want to repeat myself every post.

  11. MaLóL Says:

    It’s also amazing how, just by a suplement contamination, he gets the largest ban, two years…

    Again, I apreciatte that you clearly show your opinion, but you show yourself as a complete asshole to me, and my image of what your company means is a big pile of shit, quite frankly.

    • It’s amazing what you read into this post that isn’t there. Also amazing that from Contador’s side the response to my post was quite different (yes, I know people there).

      • MaLóL Says:

        Exactly, it isn’t there, you go over it cause you have counter interests. And it’s not amazing, others pointed it out already.

        You should be doing the following things instead of talking bullshit bout doping, you clearly have no fucking clue about medicine, go back to the wind tunnel or:

        a)do some sport, you are another fat ass who talks cycling but looks like a fat mcdonalds frequent client. You eat too much brodje krokets. fucking smarty dutchy crap.

        b)solve the quality controls of the overpriced crap you sell and stop talking bullshit about contador. I don’t know what contador told you or what he had to tell you, inside him he must think you are a fucking asshole, just like everyone else. We have too many broken Cervelo’s in Spain, too much faulty asian crap, over the limit.

        Again, do some km’s and cut this doping bullshit of yours. Any OMA fits riders looks more cyclist than you do.

        • Wow, thanks for the adult response. At least it was funny, made my day. Interesting to see I have “counter-interests”. I didn’t know I had any interests in this case and even if I did, writing a blog won’t further them I’m sure.

          What does medicine have to do with the process of how WADA, UCI and CAS reach a final outcome, which is what I am writing about in this particular post? Unfortunately virtually nothing. You may not like that, neither do I.

          BTW, you say it’s clearly contamination of supplements. It’s interesting that the Contador camp doesn’t agree with you, because he only used team supplements, nothing else, and none of his teammates who also used them tested positive. So apparently you know more than his camp, you should have been on his defense team!

        • MaLóL Says:

          man i give up, this makes no sense. congratulations for your speaker to through your nonsense to the world, i have to admire that. what the hell do you know of the contador camp, they perfectly know the beef was a fucking lie just to try to win the case, as it was the only chance, as contamination was not possible to defense… How many riders has been tested by the same german laboratory as contador; ZERO, NO ONE, ONLY CONTADOR.

          WHY? answer that asshole.

      • MaLóL Says:

        And cut the fucking BBright crap, for god sacke. How many people has told you already that it makes no sense? you use a longer spindle but it has no support, the carbon extension is horizontal, with no support, it’s not vertical. It really makes no sense, it offers less options and it’s heavier. Go BB30, just like the rest of the world, that’s not Open, that is closed. Seems like you try to imitate a Steve Jobs’ model, and that model only works for a smart motherfucker like him, works for genious, not for you boy.

        • Last time I checked the test of the lightest frames in the world by Tour magazine, the one of the few magazines to do proper lab tests, the BBright frame was 10% lighter and 10% stiffer than the best BB30 frame. So it’s not that bad.

  12. MaLóL Says:

    I was not sure you were an idiot, but you just can’t stop probing it… Your frames are good, but bbright make them worse, put a bb30 on it and it will be better, at least we can install a decent crankset on them, not the fucking spanish crap rotor, which axle cracks and gets oxidated.

    Did tour magazine tested rotor cranks in the long term? NO

    Go eat a Kroket.

  13. MaLóL Says:

    does tour measure in their labs how many frames have to be returned due to cracks on the carbon? NO

  14. Ast Onished Says:

    MaLoL: you really should have adult supervision when you log on to the internet. Otherwise there’s a risk you will just end up looking foolish. (Disclaimer: I don’t own a Cervelo, although I occasionally covet one. None of my BBs are even BB30 let alone BBBright. I’ve even got a square taper on my MTB. I am quite partial to Manchego and Jamon Iberico.)

  15. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    How ’bout a new topic GV? I don’t always agree with you but enjoy reading your viewpoints here and hate to see you get sidetracked in a battle of wits against an unarmed man.

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