Following a discussion which took place recently on the British rowing forum. There was talk about a British amateur cyclist who was caught using doping, epo. This cyclist had also done some impressive performances on the ConceptII rowing machine. Now the very fact that a cyclist got caught is not surprising. It's almost more difficult to come up with a list of cyclists that don’t use ;-)
My question is purely what drugs abuse really adds to performance and whether the current controls have reduced the use of banned substances the last decade?
The list of caught cyclists is half a phonebook thick. Cycling has always been a sport in which people used al kinds of stuff that "helped" them to ride faster or longer. Often with not much success but some substances really do help a bit. Cycling was originally a fairground attraction where one could do what they wanted and nobody cared about what they took or not, as long as they rode hard it fine. This origin is still to be found in the background. And I fear that this will never change completely, man always seeks for ways to improve, and restrictions imposed in the form of rules and laws are often ignored. I don’t see why this will ever change.
First there is hardly any research to find on the effect of doping, logical to me but a problem, elite athletes won't shorten their careers on helping to do research. The short career time they have will be used on doing sports. So research that has been done is always with less serious athletes and often for a short period. So not of much value.
The rest is simply no doping and does not belong on a prohibited list. Those are social problems, don't make it something else. This "phenomenon" has disappeared as fast as it came, the truth was probably the use of epo and the very high hematocriet values that it gave, making the blood very thick, will all risks going involved. oping does not do much here, 100% pure talent and training seem especially crucial.
So the doping hype is exaggerated if you ask me, and nowadays I think the use is less than it used to be, so the controls do work, but that we will we eradicate doping totally? That seems a naive thought. Man will always try to cut corners, willingly or unwillingly.
If we look further in time at old world records that have been set in pre doping area, in some areas those records are already very close to the current levels. Look at the men's 100 meters world record for example, that stands already more than 40 years under 10.00 seconds ...... The 200 meters for over 40 years under 20.00 Those performances are still good enough to reach the final in every major tournament and often enough to win medals. So d
But what if we take a look at the performance over the last 10/20 years, what kind of picture do we get? Look for example at the world records in athletics for women, there we see that almost no records are broken for years in a row now. Athletics is a sport that is almost entirely dependent on pure physical ability. Almost all records are set in the years 1980 and 1990. A conclusion can and I think should be, that doping now is clearly less than 10/20 years ago. The controls now are just much more strict. Another conclusion could be that doping does help, especially in women. The world records in athletics for man are also often old, but the relationship is a lot less strong than in women. This makes sense, give a woman testosterone-alike drugs and they become more masculine. And men are simply physically stronger than women. Man are already man, so it harder to make them more masculine.
Another point, we don't here much about cyclists anymore who drop dead out of the blue. There was a period in which that happened regularly. I won't name names but an easy search through google and names will appear. This came often with the excuse that a "cold / flu" virus had caught the hart muscle.
An other issue that I personally come across is that many people overestimate the effects of doping greatly. Of course there are resources, if properly applied, that "help" a little, EPO helps endurance athletes, blood doping also helps, steroids make you stronger and make it possible to train harder, but the gains you get are much smaller than many think. You can't make a racehorse out of a donkey. In recent years, approximately from the mid 90's, the talk about doping has become more and more loudly. The list of the names of athletes who got caught is almost endless nowadays. We also know that this list is just the tip of the iceberg, most users never get caught. What many people do not realize is that if they would be tested themselves they have a good change also to test positive, many standard medications are on the banned list.
Also there are plenty of substances on the doping list that are no real dope at all, by not being dope I mean we know those substances don't help they are only on the list for social reasons. Think for instance of cocaine, two famous athletes who are caught using them, Top cyclist Tom Boonen and World Champion gymnast Yuri van Gelder, also World record holder High jump Javier Sotamoyor was caught on using this. Just to name a few......
Don't get me I am not in favor of using cocaine, but I see little difference in using this compared to the use of alcohol or nicotine. So it should not be on the banned list. But he, socially it's accepted to drink a lot every now and then.............. Both the use of cocaine and alcohol is not healthy but also won't improve performances and in both cases make them even worse. Why is one then banned and not the other? I simply believe that that the lists should only consist of pure performance enhancing drugs.