Coyle and Moninger at the Excel Crit
was recently announced that Scott Moninger failed the drug test after the Saturn
Cycling Classic this past August for the banned substance 19-norandrosterone,
which is a precursor to nandrolone. I am not interested in standing on a soapbox
and starting a heated debate over ethics; whether or not cyclists should or
should not take any supplements (you try and do consecutive 6 hour training
rides and not have a protein shake afterwards) or if he should just suck it up
and take full blame for ingesting substances that were not on the products label
(but should have been).
After talking with Scott and numerous other people it seems that the finger
pointing and name-calling may not be the greatest way to handle the situation.
Regardless of whether Scott receives a 6-month or 2-year ban from competition
the contamination trap will continue be there for another unsuspecting person to
fall into unless some preventive action is taken.
Among all the chat-room debates, scathing e-mails and opinions being floated
around, every angle is being pursued except for the one that would make the most
sense; how can we prevent this from happening in the future. How can we protect
cyclists and other athletes from this exact situation?
There are plenty of banned substances on the US Anti-Doping Associations list
but one of the only ones that seems to be associated with contamination are the
various forms of "andro." There have been few problems with cyclists having
their supplements tainted with substances such as caffeine or ephedrine, just
What if there was some way that we could limit the accessibility to this
‘supplement,’ what if we could keep it off the production line? Although there
seems to be no way the FDA would monitor these forms of andro just because of
the possibility that athletes may be unwittingly exposed to it.
I am not pretending to be any sort of expert on vitamins or supplements but I
am worried about naive or uninformed athletes (i.e. myself) having their career
ended and name tarnished just because they were trying to maximize their
potential by taking supplements.
Scott is not the first person who has been involved in a case of possible
tainted supplements. After a criterium in April of ’01 Vassili Davidenko
(Navigators) also tested positive for 19-norandrosterone. He was suspended from
competition, his name and the reputation of his team was drug through the mud.
With many of us not knowing Vasilli but being all to familiar with Rocky V it
was easy to label Drago...I mean Davidenko... as the cheating Russian. I
certainly was quick to hop on the anti-Russian train and for that I owe him and
his team an apology.
An official statement issued by the Navigator team said, "We have full
confidence that this result was due to the ingestion of an over-the-counter
herbal food supplement that did not have a full accounting of the ingredients on
the label." Just like Scott, Vasilli had the products tested where "an
independent laboratory confirmed the presence of a metabolite of a banned
substance, as initially reported by USADA."
When something like this happens to a friend, someone who you know is clean,
your attitude on the subject may quickly change. People need to be aware that
cycling is one of the most heavily tested sports in the world. Because of the
heavy policing and highly publicized doping cases the sport of cycling is
therefore constantly associated with doping. If soccer, football or baseball
were subject to the same amount of testing the public may have a different
attitude towards us…but that is an entirely different monster.
Here are some facts and a few opinions from around our little cycling family
on what Scott is going through and how they feel about supplements and drugs in
Facts (as I see them):
Scott Moninger tested positive for 19-norandrosterone in August
Scott tested positive because of a tainted amino acid (L-Tyrosine)
An estimated 19% of supplements contain precursors of nandrolone
and testosterone (Medical Commission of the Olympic Committee).
Scott faces a possible two-year ban under the current
There is no government regulation in the supplement industry.
John Lieswyn, Team 7-Up/Nutra Fig:
"I think the trap Scott fell into is deceptively simple to be ensnared by. To
all those who are labeling him naïve or "shoulda known better"- I bet they never
made a little mistake that cost them so much."
John also brings up a valid point that the crime should fit the time,
something that the WADA and the USASDA has yet to do. This is the idea that a
policy of zero tolerance is not necessarily the greatest idea. "Life isn’t black
and white. If it were, we wouldn’t need lawyers and juries to decide. A judge
could just fit the laws into a law book and presto!"
Rob Coppolillo, Cycling Journalist:
"There will be too much talk in the coming months –did he, didn’t he?—and I’m
nervous for Scott’s future. His fate now rests with large governing bodies that
have proven their total incompetence when it comes to the "fight" against
"He did not 'dope' himself. Sure, others have gotten their juice through
tainted beef, Venezuelan cupcakes, on and on…but if you look at Scott’s career,
his consistent results, take into account the integrity he has shown throughout
his racing life, then I think there is no doubt he is a clean rider."
Allen Lim, University of Colorado Cycling Guru:
"I think that the situation with Scott is a total corruption of how the
system is supposed to work. I believe he is clean, I believe that what happened
to him could happen to any athlete and I’ve always been weary of unregulated
nutritional supplements. Life is full if irony. Maybe one day, they’ll start to
work in favor of the good guy rather than against."
Dirk Friel, Professional Cyclist and Cycling Coach at TrainingBible.com:
"I was going to write an article on BCAA’s [Branch Chain Amino Acids]. I’m
not sure now. Most likely I’ll now write about how you can’t trust the label. As
most of you know I have been tested at my house randomly by the National
Anti-Doping Association. I have always been skeptical of supplements and have
stuck mainly to vitamins E, C and B-Complex. But now I’m not sure if those are
safe anymore. I’ve even told many to use BCAA’s. For most this is not an issue,
as you will not be tested. However, the substance that Scott tested positive for
is not a well-researched product and not a lot is known about it.
I advise you first choose eating well and smart, instead of taking
Unnamed Professional Cyclist:
"Moninger is guilty. He’s guilty of being stupid. Buyer beware." "If you
can’t do the time, don’t take the risk." "Some good ol’ fashion American suing
should start the cleaning up process. And why is it no one has come forth with
what brands not to buy? Sounds like a conspiracy brewing to me."
It is also noteworthy to mention that I still believe that the US Peloton is
a very clean group of riders. When the issue of doping is brought up rarely are
we talking about the "hard drugs" like EPO or riders shooting up Belgium
cocktails, and we don’t have 23 year old neo-pro’s having suspicious heart
attacks on the slopes of Taylor Street. When we have issues it tends to be with
milder forms of doping; this is a positive sign about the state of cycling here
in the US. I am not saying that this is not a serious issue but we should try to
keep this all in perspective.
I am not sure where all of this will lead but hopefully there will be some
sort of resolution more than just handing Moninger a suspension and a tainted
name. You would hope that over a 21-year career he has earned more than just
Good Luck Scott,