Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fraud in Amateur Sports

Photo taken from
So, I was appalled to read about a marathon runner who caught a bus over the last six miles of the race and then waited until the 1st and 2nd place racers passed him before taking 3rd place with a personal record! I can just see this guy bragging about his PR to his friends at work! In my book, he's a bigger loser than the last place finisher who followed the rules. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "The biggest loser!"

This story reminded me of the pro and amateur cyclists who are out there doping even though they know it's against the rules (see this link for links to a few articles). I personally can understand the pros getting caught up in it more than I can the amateurs. A pro has all sorts of pressure to keep his contract and win and others are trying to take his job from him by doping better than he does.

Amateurs on the other hand, are supposed to be doing something they love and that keeps them fit. If they are racing to prove their self worth, something is really missing in that soul's life...Yet, we can read that it happens and some people believe more doping is happening among amateurs than among the pros.

I hear people speculate all the time about amateurs who are doping. For example, sometimes masters cyclists are known to race all over the region and dominate the races but then they skip Masters Nationals. Why would they do that? The speculation is that it's because at Masters Nationals, they test for doping. When you sign up for the event it notifies you that they test. I believe that this fact pattern and speculation paints a pretty dark cloud over these amateurs. Clean racers can't help but wonder why someone who travels all over the region and wins will then skip the one, most prestigious race of the year, which also happens to be likely to test the winner for doping. It leaves a bad aura on all the races and leads to questioning of anyone who is riding strong. Not a healthy situation in my book...

So what can be done? I've recommended an amendment to the Utah Cycling Association's (UCA's) rules to institute drug testing at some of the UCA races this year. I doubt these changes will take place but I would love to see them. Here is my recommendation:
Require every UCA category winner (e.g., Pro 12, Cat 3, Masters 35+, etc.) to submit a urine sample which may or may not be tested for doping. Also, require every UCA race to drug test some number (e.g., 5) of the category winners.
The goal of this proposal would be to help deter the doping among pro and amateur cyclists that we can read about in the news. I've heard that the cost to analyze a urine sample for doping is not that high (e.g., $200). Whatever it is, I would be willing to pay a higher entry fee to institute drug testing in more amateur races.

There undoubtedly are some who don't race because they don't want to compete against those who cheat. On the other hand, some racers may quit coming if they know they will be tested. I personally think this will improve the amateur races and help send the message that cheating is not tolerated.

Just as business and the economy is ruined by greedy fraudsters, sports and competition are ruined by cheaters of all types!


  1. Not that I agree with doping but I can absolutely sympathize with the amateur athlete wanting to do better and garner results.

    When you are not professional caliber it's not like you automatically become realistic and simply enjoy your athletic activity for its own sake, instead you try to excel at whatever level you are at. To be a competitive athlete is just that, to be competitive. For sure it's too bad that some people put way too much pressure on themselves and equate self-esteem and self-worth with results but that is pretty much par for the course with a large percentage of athletes.

    People always want to do better and they always compare themselves to their best. As you get older or have a bad day/week/year you look harder and harder for ways to bring you back up to that bar you set so high on that special day when everything fell into place. It's sad but true.

    I agree with your proposal but I also sympathize with athletes who cheat. They are after all only human.

  2. Martin - I don't sympathize with those that cheat, but I do have an issue with testing, only because I don't watch what I eat like the pro's and other than the obvious, don't care to know what is on the banned list. After all, this is a hobby, not a career for me. Personally, other than a daily vitamin, I don't take anything else, but who knows what is in energy drinks or other food that I eat. I don't want to be a watcher. Perhaps testing at the Pro 1-2, or Cat 3 level would make sense, but the other levels is just not worth it for most casual racers like myself.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.