Join Date: Nov 2005
Bikes: Univega Via Montega, Nashbar Aluminum frame/105 roadbike
The ASO and UCI cannot clean up the tour.
Unless you removed all financial incentive for a rider or their employer to dope, it is simply impossible.
There is not enough money in the system as it stands to test frequently enough to catch dopers. Weekly testing year round of all the tour riders would make it much harder to cheat, but is not likely to ever happen.
History has shown that doping technology has remained ahead of testing technology for the last few decades that they have been doing testing. Sure, every now and then they improve the tests and manage to nab a tiny fraction of the people cheating with a certain technology (be it a PED, or blood doping, or whatever). The dopers (or rather their doctors) simply move on to a new, better form of doping.
Cases like Operation Puerto, where multiple world class athletes are implicated, who have NEVER been caught for cheating, really highlights the absolute futility of the current testing regime.
With these forms of cheating offering huge advantages, essentially denying non-cheaters the opportunity to compete without fighting a hugely uphill battle, can you really expect athletes to remain clean? It's their paycheck. If you're 5% slower, you're a domestique. Or maybe you don't even make the team.
Are dopers cheaters? Yeah, sure. Should you let them off the hook? No way. Can you stop them? Nope, not really.
I see two options which will eliminate this type of cheating:
De-'criminalize' the doping, bring it in the open and make it as safe and fair as possible. Tailor the 'program' that riders are on to maximize safety and health of the riders. Try to keep them as healthy as possible by minimizing their recovery times, choosing drugs with the smallest side effects (not solely for the ease of masking them) etc. This may mean 'managing' riders hematocrit levels by putting them on EPO. It might mean giving them some steroids after nasty crashes or tough climbing stages. Don't tell kids to 'Be Like Lance/Jan/Miguel' unless you're willing to include 'and sacrifice your body and long term health in a form of modern day gladitorial combat'.
Take the money incentive out. Don't have corporate sponsored teams. The races can be sponsored, but not the riders. Maybe have teams based on bike clubs? Team's financial books should be completely open and audited. If a rider cheats, the club is penalized for the year. If the team cheats, the club is penalized for a decade. Give the riders a fair salary, a pension, and save the financial bonuses for winning until the day they retire. Make sure that neither a team nor a rider can afford a $20,000/year human growth hormone program, or whatever Dr. X is pushing these days.
I'm suspicious that every big cash pro sport with a physical element is rotten with doping, as there's hints of it everywhere you look. The world (and the cycling world itself) has gotten obsessed with the doping issue, and it's getting a black eye over it. I think professional sports as a whole is probably to blame. If you're 'worth' thousands and thousands of dollars a day in competition, it's basically irresponsible to not take every step you can to 'ensure peak performance'.
You have to change that equation. You have to make it illogical to engage in illicit doping.