“Just the other day I was speaking with a friend who is also a cyclist and we were discussing the Landis/doping issue and he told me how he would solve the problem. I convinced him to send me his thoughts in an email so I could share them with all of you. Tell me whether you think he is on the right track. We look forward to hearing your thought”.
Now that the Floyd Landis doping hearings are history, it is becoming increasingly clear that regardless of the outcome, no one is going to win. Anyone in the cycling community who isn’t fooling themselves knows that a lot of professional cyclists rely on artificial enhancements, whether they use steroids, hormones, EPO, or transfusions. We’ve known it for a long time. It seems equally obvious that their teams either facilitate the doping or, at the very least, hide their heads in the sand. As unfair as doping is to cyclists who do not dope, the current terribly flawed, scattershot approach to testing, prosecution, and punishment will not solve the problem. Why? Beyond the evidentiary problems and other legal issues, doping has so permeated the sport that even harsh punishment has proved to be ineffective. As long as riders believe they need to dope to succeed, they will.
So what is the answer? In my opinion, to eliminate doping cycling needs take a page from the South Africa playbook and grant amnesty to everyone. That’s right. Rather than punishment, cycling needs a fresh, clean start. A blanket amnesty for all current riders is the only way to make that happen. However, amnesty alone will not work either. For it to be effective, the cycling federation is going to have to create a new testing regime objective enough to satisfy all parties, enabling the various authorities to institute punishments for future doping so onerous that riders and their teams will self-police. An automatic lifetime expulsion for riders who dope or cover up doping and multi-million dollar fines and automatic dissolution of any team whose member is caught violating the rules should do the trick.
Taking these steps may not completely end doping, but they will end the culture of doping, which is the real problem. So let’s remove Dick Pound’s self-righteousness, angry French people, and prosecutors looking to make a name for themselves from the equation, and do what’s necessary to restore the cycling’s credibility. By instituting an amnesty and fixing the broken testing regime, cycling can insure for ever more that victory in the Tour de France, Giro, and other great races are the result of superior athleticism, not chemicals.
Los Angeles, CA