How Wide Spread is Doping in Amateur Cycling

I have been working on this story for a while now (6+ months). Trying to gather information about the problem of doping in cycling in particular the problem in the amateur ranks.

One of the big questions is who actually does the drug testing. The drug testing is done by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Who is USADA?

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which began operations on October 1, 2000, is a non-governmental agency responsible for implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code in the United States. USADA's budget is funded by a U.S. federal grant and with revenue generated from dope-testing contracts between USADA and the USOC and other organizations.

The one big issue that Colorado has with this setup is that the local governing body is the American Cycling Association (ACA). The ACA is what is known as a Non-Governing Body (NGB). From people I have talked to that are familiar with the USADA and the ACA say there are two major hurdles if the ACA would ever want to implement a drug testing program:

  • The USADA dealing with a NGB
  • Cost

There are so many ways to approach anti-doping but nothing can take the place of unannounced or even pre-determined doping control (of top finishers).

I talked to a couple of people that have a very good understanding of the doping issue and in particular illegal performance enhancing drug use. I asked the question How wide spread do you think the problem is in amateur cycling? Both of them believe that the majority of dopers in the US are amateurs. This would make sense just by the shear number of riders that are amateurs. There are only so many professional riders out there.

This got me to thinking about statistics. I contacted USADA a couple of times, and never got a response, about getting statistics of the number of amateurs that are tested each year. They do post some statistics but its difficult to determine who is an amateur and who is not.

Here is an excerpt from an article in Bicycling that basically comes to the same conclusion.

And statistics, as usual, don't tell the whole story. According to former journeyman pro and admitted doper Joe Papp, who recently pleaded guilty to dealing human growth hormone and EPO acquired from China to an estimated 187 customers, older athletes comprise the bulk of amateur drug use. "Based on my experiences, in the U.S. the majority of athletes seeking doping products on the black market are amateurs, and believe it or not, they're masters athletes," says Papp. "I think that's in part because older athletes can afford these products, but it's because of ego as well. People don't want to let go of their youth. Say you're 41 years old and you want 10 percent of your threshold power back. If you can get by the ethics of doping, and don't think it's going to kill you, it's a no-brainer."

Along those same lines I found this article from a site in Australia. It talks about whether amateur doping sanctions should be better publicized. From the article:

I’ve never seen intentional doping at the amateur level of cycling but I have no doubt that it happens. Many people passionately believe that sanctioned riders should be named and shamed by Cycling Australia and the national federations to help discourage others from making the same choice and to let it be known that people are getting caught. What do you think? Would any good come out of it?

What do you think? Please no name dropping and if you know something and would like to contact USADA you can call 1-877-Play Clean (1-877-752-9253).

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14 Comments

I don't think amateurs

I don't think amateurs should be tested. There are too many essential and everyday over the counter drugs that are important to people's lives and are considered banned substances. If the list was limited to anabolic's and hormones and tests were done at major races and limited to open categories, then maybe.

This issue is far more complex than people think.

i dont think

Test them all, if you have been around cycling in the youth ranks then you would know. Stop it there and instill some valuable qualities in our youth maybe just maybe we end up with a new generation of cyclist with integrity

I don't care. I race cat3 to

I don't care. I race cat3 to stay in shape, that's it. If I place and there's cash, I'll stick around for my $50, if it's merchandise or a medal I generally take off. I don't care if I get 3rd or 30th, if I'm staying in shape and having good rides I get all I need out of racing. If someone is doping to get higher places at that level, they are a joke, but I couldn't care less.

Really can you stop with the doping crap. Most cycling people don't care whether it's at the pro or amateur level.

doping

So you race cat3. And you don't care that before you start the race you are at a disadvantage ? Why race then ? Its competition. And supposed to be on a level field. I know people with the same mind set that its just fun, wrong. When I was coming up through the ranks I wanted to win even in cat 3. We need to take a stand, doping in the lower ranks is rampant, please care if your racing for fitness stay out of my way I'm racing to win, drug free btw

Unless you are making a living off it, bike racing is a hobby

Your uber competitive attitude is exactly the reason that we have doping in the amateur ranks. Some guy thinks it matters that he finish in the top 10 of a cat 3 or masters race and can't get there from training. It's not like the prize lists have dollar amounts that are more than I make at work, product I can't buy on my own, or include blowjobs from Lady Gaga, so a great result means you beat... a bunch of amateur bike racers.

Sure, upgrade points are on the line, but sooner or later, unless you are really talented, you'll upgrade into a category that you are pack fodder and not competitive. It's too bad you're there to win, because it won't be fun.

Agree!

If these were just Elephant Rock rides, I wouldn't care if there was another old guy out there using T or whatever he needs to keep his vitality. But, I'm not riding charity rides, I'm paying minimum $30 per race to compete fairly against other masters racers. If they aren't racing fairly, I care. I think this is an important topic. It's quite obvious that there are amateurs in Colorado doing some sort of juice.

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