Doping in Cycling – One Fan’s Point of View
A fans open letter to fans and riders, "Okay, mostly a large rant, but who
really cares anyway? Do you?" ... we hold all the power and we don’t even know
it. Without us, there would be no reason for the sport..."
By Paula Andrist, a.k.a. Euskalpixie
Some of you may know me, many of you probably don’t (I’m a faithful reader of
the DP and often on the chat). It doesn’t really matter who I am, except for one
point of fact: we are all fans of cycling. I love cycling. You love cycling. We
all love cycling. Now if you’re anything like me, you’ve had it up to your
eyeballs with all the doping and scandal that our beautiful sport has suffered
through the revolving door of the past few years.
I am down right tired of it. So tired of it in fact, that I half-heartedly
followed the end of the season, and barely even tracked the progress of the
Vuelta a Espana, which happens to be my favorite of the three Grand Tours. Now,
for those of you who know me, that will probably be as much a shock to you as me
switching teams and forsaking my beloved Euskaltel-Euskadi. For those of you who
don’t know me, you’ll think, “Who cares? And who is this crazy woman?”
Well first off, you should care. The more fans we lose, the more the sport is
diminished. The more fans we lose, the less the riders will care what we
think--wait, maybe they don’t care what we think, but seriously, what serious
rider wouldn’t like a fan or two or twelve cheering endlessly for them. The more
fans we lose, the less sponsors will participate, and there we go, we lose the
sport all together. I would think the fans should rank right up there in the
meaning of and reason for sport. If footie didn’t have its adoring fans, what
would it be? I’ll tell you what, a bunch of grown men kicking a ball around a
large field, and guess what? They wouldn’t be getting paid for it anymore.
Without the fans, there is no reason for sponsors or cities to pay salaries;
there would be no advertising, as no one would be watching it on TV. That is
where the power of the FAN comes in.
In many discussions with my compatriots in the Daily Peloton chat room, we
have hashed over this issue. Many are ambivalent, saying that if they are all
doped, does it really matter? They’re all cheating anyway. Others just don’t
care; I think they have their heads in the sand. They want cycling, no matter
what and turn a blind eye to the problems that are growing and threatening our
Then you have the ones like me; the ones who do care, who want a clean sport.
I don’t want to see any more 25 year-olds dropping dead from heart problems
because of dope they think they “have” to take to just keep up, be competitive
or win. It seems these days, you’re damned if you do or you’re damned if you
don’t. Either you dope to keep up or excel, or you don’t dope and you don’t have
I used to be naive and think that only “some” riders did it. Not anymore. I
have a hard time believing that most anyone is clean anymore. Call me a cynic;
you’d probably not be far off.
As fans, we hold all the power and we don’t even know it. Without us, there
would be no reason for the sport, except on the Olympic level of course; but
that’s not what we’re talking about. We as fans need to take hold of our power
and make our voice heard. I’m not sure how we will accomplish this, but we need
to make someone, somewhere, somehow listen to us.
I want cycling to be the example to the whole world that you can eradicate
doping issues within sport and have it be effective and lasting. I want riders
to not have to be super-human with performance enhancing drugs to compete.
I want natural talent, drive and commitment to be the deciding factors in our
sport. OUR sport. I first put the responsibility on the riders themselves for
this change. All you pro-riders out there, who read the DP, pass this link on.
Let all your comrades, friends, training partners, enemies and teammates know
that the FANS are demanding this of you. We don’t want you to dope. All we want
of you is hard work and good racing. Is that too much to ask? Stand up together
and as a whole say, “No more doping, on any level”. If you’d do that for us,
we’d really appreciate it and we’d support YOU.
Secondly, I put responsibility on the sponsors and team management; all of
you who are so crazy for results no matter how they are gained. I have heard
that in the pursuit of glory a blind eye is often turned by the “higher ups” as
to what might be happening within their team to produce results.
I’m not saying it definitely happens, but I suspect it happens, this is how I
think it happens: If a rider refuses to dope and does not produce, his contract
is not renewed. Of course, there is always another rider who is willing to cross
that ethical line and take his place. It is part of the vicious cycle. In my
mind, if it does happen this way, someone has to put a stop to it, and sponsors
and team management could be essential in that. If sponsors would put more
pressure on team management to have “clean” riders, maybe that would make a
difference. If team management would stand up to sponsors and communicate that
there is only so much we can do to produce results, maybe that would make a
difference. I don’t know; I’m just a fan looking for a solution.
Overall, we fans need to have a voice. We need to find a way to get our point
across. It is essential that the riders, sponsors, management, UCI and race
organizers know that we won’t stand for it anymore. All of the above need to
realize that if a fanatic like me quits watching and following cycling that I’m
not just an isolated individual, I’m one of many.
We don’t want a dirty sport where you have to cheat to win, or even to just
keep up. We want our riders to finish out their careers in good health and be
able to live to ripe old ages to relive their glory years in cycling. We want
our riders to be able to contribute back to the sport that they obviously love
so dearly, that they would put their very lives on the line for it.
I just want my cycling back. I don’t want to wonder each time someone new
rises to the top what kind of drugs he was taking to make it that far. I want to
be able to share the passion and beauty of this wonderful sport with everyone in
the world and not have to worry when the next scandal will break.
So please, sponsors, team management, UCI officials, race organizers and most
of all RIDERS, if you’re out there and you’re reading this, it is time to make a
change. You need it. We all need it. Most of all, the FANS need it. Let’s bring
our sport back to what it once was and what it could be again. That’s all we
ask, and if you could do that for us, we’d really appreciate it.
Note: The ideas and viewpoints expressed in this article may or may not
reflect the ideas and viewpoints of the Daily Peloton or its staff. Any
questions or remarks may be addressed to myself directly at