October 15, 2009
In 2003, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand failed to appear for an out of competition drugs test and received a global ban of 8 months and a £50,000 fine. In 2001, Lazio player Jaap Stam tested positive for the steroid nandrolone and was banned for 4 months. Last month, basketball player Rashard Lewis of Orlando Magic in the NBA was found to have abnormal levels of testosterone in his blood and he was banned for a laughable 2 weeks. In cycling, any of these misdemeanors leads to a 2 year ban from the sport. In addition to the ban, the rider must then deal with trying to return the sport. When the suspension has been served, the rider is not welcomed back easily to the peloton. He is now a former doper, a disgrace. It is not easy to find a new team, and if the rider does succeed in finding a team, he faces into a career of trying to convince the fans and the media that he can be considered a credible rider again. So are the UCI and cycling as a sport in general doing enough to rid the sport of the cancer that is doping? The answer is yes and no. Yes, they are actively doing more than any other sport to eradicate the cheats. No, cycling is an embarrassing melee of organisations who have been doing more harm than good in the last few years.