When I watch racing, I choose not to get involved in the dark side of our glorious sport. This sport that is steeped in tradition, unwritten rules and etiquette that only those involved in the sport in some way understand. They’re not hard rules and they’re not there to make anyone’s life difficult but rather to ensure that our sport remains the way it is meant to be.
Performance enhancing drugs are fast becoming what pro cycling is known for in the public view and there is increasing evidence that drugs are affecting the sport. There are many scandals out there, that I personally don’t want to give the publicity to. But that’s not the point I’m making. Drugs are even affecting those teams with a zero tolerance policy to drugs and drugs testing. I’m talking about HTC Highroad. It was announced earlier this year that the team itself was closing shop and riders were to find new homes. Just this week, the team exercised their zero tolerance policy when Alex Rasmusen was fired from the team after missing a drugs test.
Now, I don’t normally pay attention to any doping stories but when I saw this story, it spoke in volumes to me. How can a team with an anti doping policy like HTC Highroad’s go down after three years, and collecting the most wins of any team in the pro peloton, lose their main sponsor? Either the sponsor clearly has had enough and doesn’t think there is any more gain from the sponsorship or they don’t want any bad publicity from being involved in what is perceived as the dirtiest sport in the world. Now, this was only the start of things that told me that I couldn’t stick my head in the sand any longer and just ignore the problem and enjoy the racing.
A few months ago, I was sitting in a lesson when I got a complaint in my chest. While I was sat in the doctors answering questions for a diagnosis, I mentioned my cycling. Further questions were asked about what I’d done recently etc. Then there was a question that really struck me. I was surprised an amateur racer in cat. 4 could be asked this so seriously. The question was “Have you taken performance enhancers?” This, coupled with the news of HTC made me realise that something really does need to be done about the problem of drugs in our sacred sport. Now, the sport is a lot cleaner than it has been in it’s past but when it effects the sport in such a negative way, no amount of solo attacks on the cobbles of roubaix, mountain attacks in the heat of the moment and long sunny runs through sunflowers at the greatest bike race in the world can continue to mask the noble sport of road cycling.