Thursday, May 19, 2011

Doping in Cycling: McQuaid Wants Former Dopers Out of Management

VeloNation is reporting that Pat McQuaid, President of the UCI, has proposed that any rider who has been caught doping should be banned from later taking a position managing a cycling team.  The rationale for McQuaids proposal is based on the following premise:
McQuaid believes that former dopers will be more likely to encourage his team members to cheat as well. This isn't rocket science. Someone who has doped and found ways to help prevent detection will be valuable as a trainer to help others who want to cheat to do the same. Also, a former doper may have connections with doctors and suppliers that he can use to help his team win by cheating. Finally, I've heard it said: Once a doper, always a doper. I think that may be an overgeneralization but it probably holds in a lot of cases and appears to hold with many cyclists including pros such as Riccardo Ricco and even some amateurs such as Duane Dickey.

Unfortunately, cycling has many team managers who were caught doping when they were cyclists. McQuaid believes, and I agree with him, that this leads to a cycle where doping becomes part of the culture. VeloNation identified the following individuals as team managers who have a history of doping violations and who could be affected by this rule if it was adopted retroactively:
Should the proposal be adopted, Saxo Bank-SunGard manager Bjarne Riis, Leopard Trek manager Kim Andersen, Euskaltel-Euskadi manager Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and HTC-Highroad manager Rolf Aldag are some of those at the top of the list of those that could be prevented from working with their teams.
The VeloNation article questions whether such a ban could be enforced legally. In this regard, I don't see the point of the article. It seems to me that the UCI can make whatever rules they want and they are enforceable upon members of the UCI. The members of the union (i.e. pro cyclists and their team personnel) can choose to participate in the sport or not. If they participate, they follow the rules. Case closed. Maybe I'm missing something...

Also, this type of governance is not without precedent in other business arenas. For example, when a company commits financial statement fraud, the SEC can ban the fraud perpetrator from ever being in management of a public company. This makes sense to me. If you are willing to break the rules at some point in your career you are more likely to encourage others to do likewise than someone who never gave in to the pressure to break the rules. Yes, it's a lifetime ban. Tough luck! You cheated and broke the rules and the consequences are that you will not be allowed to manage a team in the future. Case closed!

It appears that McQuaid is serious about changing the widespread doping culture in cycling. That's encouraging to me. Unfortunately, I'm not real encouraged by the likelihood of this change being implemented any time soon. I guess time will tell...

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