You probably didn't need a €3 million report to figure a lot of this stuff out. For example, it shouldn't surprise you that pro cyclists can still figure out how to take banned performance-enhancing drugs without getting caught:
2) Is EPO still being used in the peloton? Despite improvements to the science underlying the ABP, it is still possible for riders to micro-dose using EPO without getting caught. The Commission also heard that riders are confident that they can take a micro-dose of EPO in the evening because it will not show up by the time the doping control officers (DCOs) could arrive to test at 6 a.m.
Also, if you've been paying attention, you already know that pro cyclists are crashing (literally) because they're popping pills:
8) Are crashes being caused by drugs taken by riders? The Commission was also told by a rider of a “pills system” used during races in 2011, involving up to 30 pills daily. … He said team riders also took tranquilizers at night and anti-depressants in the morning. He believed some of his crashes were due to the effects of these drugs.
And you don't need to be a narcotics officer to figure out that the best places to get banned drugs are the same places you find anonymous sex--i.e. the Internet and the gym:
12) Where do riders get banned drugs? Two newer sources of PEDs are the Internet and gyms, which are favored sources for acquiring drugs for those without access to the right doctors. The Internet has opened up a market in new designer steroids and allows riders to identify and obtain drugs that are still in clinical trials.
Which is why, if you've been to the gym this morning, Riccardo Riccò probably waylaid you in the showers and offered to sell you EPO and then blow you.
Perhaps most amusingly (but also old news), aging Freds dope too:
15) Is there doping in Gran Fondos? Masters races were also said to have middle-aged businessmen winning on EPO, with some of them training as hard as professional riders…. Some professional riders explained that they no longer ride in the Gran Fondos because they were so competitive due to the number of riders doping.
That should not be even remotely surprising in any way. Drugs are central to the lifestyle of the middle-aged male. Boner drugs, hair growth drugs, sleep aid drugs...if you're already on all of that, why wouldn't you also take drugs to ride a bike?
So what do we make of this report? Well, if you're a sportswriter for a mainstream publication, you laugh at those crazy cyclists:
Cycling, as always, kicking it at another level: pic.twitter.com/czklRq4mbxNow, I happen to really like Jason Gay--especially his earlier work. Still, this is a guy who also writes about mainstream American sports such as baseball, and football, and basketball, so he should know better. Really, cycling's on "another level" compared to these sports? Are you kidding me?!? On top of the rampant doping, recreational drugs, and DWIs, you've got routine stories about gunplay. Assault. Rape. Prostitution. Domestic violence. (And let's not even start in on murder.) Come on! These people are freaking psychotic! Plus, these sports are all fed by universities, and there is no more frightening creature than an American college-age male.
— Jason Gay (@jasonWSJ) March 9, 2015
Meanwhile, when it comes to criminal convictions, all we've got in cycling is a liar, a weed dealer, and a sex offender:
Hey, not like pro cycling doesn't have its share of scumbags, but who would you rather your teenage daughter spend a week with: Team Sky, or the New England Patriots?
It's tough to be scared of a scrawny guy with a blood parasite and a bad case of "asthma:"
On the other hand, if you're a former rider reading the CIRC report, you complain about it:
Basically, David Millar was invited to speak to the commission, but he didn't make the time for them:
My first feeling on finishing reading the CIRC report was one of disappointment. I didn’t speak to CIRC. They ‘invited’ me. Only they forgot I was then an active professional cyclist who spends most of his time on the road and has a wife and two baby boys at home. I never found time to travel to them and they never once mentioned coming to me. I regret not making the time after reading the report.
Now, however, he doesn't like the report:
So who did they interview in order to gauge the state of the modern peloton? Because the majority of those published interviewees left the sport due to a doping ban never to return. Aren’t these exactly the type of people who suffer from ‘the “false consensus effect” where athletes with a history of drug use overestimate the prevalence of drug use among other athletes’ that the report talks of?
Because it doesn't go along with his his bullshit "occasional bad apple" narrative:
But not long ago doping was endemic. The barrel was rotten. Now dopers are a minority, more akin to finding the occasional bad apple amongst the good. We need to maintain this state of affairs and start looking after the clean riders and not treating them all as criminals. They already endure the legacy of tarnished generations.
The "bad apple" concept is crucial to pro cycling, because the idea is that all the heroes are clean and it's only the losers who are doping so they can keep up. It's the same spurious "clean on top, dirty on the bottom" myth that Americans use to justify corporate behavior. (The purity of the profit motive will result in prosperity that will trickle down to us all, don'tcha know.)
Well, it's certainly no surprise to hear Millar complaining, because we all know he behaves when things don't go his way:
Then you've got the cycling media, who are basically like "It's the dawn of a new day! Everything's going to be fine! Vote with your wallet! Did we mention our new Buyer's Guide is out?"
If we collectively demand better; if we hold the UCI to its reform commitments; if we hold teams and riders to a standard that they themselves have increasingly started to promote; and if we as fans vote with our eyes and dollars, then maybe, finally, we have a shot at breaking the cycle.
Hey, I can't blame the cycling magazines and websites for their misguided optimism. It's crucial to what they do that pro cycling sort of "zeroes itself out" and goes straight. That way, their tales of sporting heroics are no longer constantly undermined by scandal, and they can continue to tell you that the Tour winner's bike setup and equipment choice means more than his doping regimen, which is crucial to advertisers. This is why you're always reading about cycling "turning a corner," and about the "bad old days" that are finally behind us. (The Festina era, the Lance Armstrong era, and so on.)
Unfortunately for them (or maybe fortunately, because cognitive dissonance is an infinitely renewable resource), this is never going to happen, for the simple reason that this sport began as a publicity stunt, and it's at best naive and at worst crazy to expect a publicity stunt to morph into something with integrity. If this were true, Kim Kardashian's ass would be running for president in 2016. Nothing moves towards integrity. Even things that start out meaning well turn to shit--just look at religion! Yet somehow a "Cannonball Run"-esque scramble across France is supposed to become an unsullied testament to the transcendent power of human will a century later?
Then I think of my own relationship to the sports in general and cycling in particular. As a young child I tried to like watching mainstream professional sports like baseball, but try as I might I just couldn't buy in, and as I got older the only way I could relate to them was by laughing at the players' funny names (Johnny Wockenfuss) or at their slovenly physical appearance and odd facial hair (Johnny Wockenfuss). Also, by about middle school, it was difficult not to notice that many of the kids who were into playing sports also happened to be gigantic assholes.
Therefore, I didn't give following professional sports another thought until I started racing road bikes, at which point pro cycling suddenly became very interesting to me. After all, I had no idea what goes through a baseball player's head while he stands around in a field scratching his balls and spitting tobacco juice, but I did know what it feels like to be in a breakaway, or to get dropped on a climb. It felt good to be a cycling fan, too. After years of tuning out whenever the conversation turned to sports, suddenly I had a sport of my own. Suddenly, people who got excited about the Superbowl or the World Series were less idiotic to me, because for the first time in my life I was getting excited about big sporting events too.
Therefore, because I was actually participating in the sport, it took me awhile to realize it was fundamentally no different than any of the others, and that I was still the same person who fundamentally didn't give a shit. In fact, it took me years of trying not to get dropped while known dopers pulled the field around in training races, and buying stupid equipment, and reading about yet another doping scandal, and starting a bike blog, and even personally getting to know the "heroes" of the sport themselves.
Alas, I couldn't see the forest for the trees--or, more accurately, I couldn't see the peloton for all the Lycra-clad asses around me.
In retrospect, I find it both amusing and humbling that it took me at least a decade and a half of solid involvement as a cycling fan to figure out what I knew after watching like three baseball games when I was seven years old, which is that: 1) It's all the same crap to me; and 2) By far the best part is making fun of the athletes' silly names and hair:
As for pro cycling and riding a bike, the two remain mutually exclusive.