Along with you, I was one of the many thousands of cycling fans who cringed at yesterday’s news that more professional cyclists have failed doping tests at this year’s Tour de France.
There’s a sense of ‘here we go again’ whenever a headline appears with the words ‘failed test’. A despair that professional cyclists just can’t seem to keep away from the sweetie drawer despite everything that has happened to the sport in the past few years.
But these latest Tour test results – Leonardo Piepoli and Stefan Schumacher‘s positives for CERA – are a sign that the sport is cleaning up, and not just from the obvious fact that two more dopers have been nicked.
How? I’d like to think that Piepoli and Schumacher – along with Riccardo Ricco, who failed the test for new EPO variant CERA during the Tour itself – are the dregs of the druggies. A last, tar-laden splutter from a smoker giving up on the fags and clearing their lungs of muck.
Sure, it’s painful that the name of cycling is again associated with drugs and doping, but it’s part of a long and drawn out process of wiping out the cheats. And it’s working.
What’s great is that this latest batch of positives has come from a test that wasn’t fully implemented during the event itself. The anti-doping agencies are now going back to old samples and re-testing them when new test techniques are developed.
No longer are the dopers one step ahead – the message is clear. You may think you’re getting away with it now, but what will happen in a few months’ time?
It should make riders who think they’ve got the latest undetectable super-drug think twice.
Teams now dismiss riders at the very whiff of a doping scandal. Event organisers and national federations are not scared of making sure positive riders are banned. Clean riders are unafraid to speak out.
What was needed is now happening – a shift in the culture of professional cycling as a whole.