Philippe Gilbert backs cycling's tough new stance on drugs

Speaking at the Dubai Tour, Philippe Gilbert says he's in favour of the way cycling is cracking down on dopers but warns of the affect media coverage has on the issue

Former road world champion Philippe Gilbert says he is in favour of the strong new anti-doping regulations in cycling, but insists the attention brought to the issue can be detrimental to the sport.

The Belgian rider talked of the sport’s clean new bread at the Dubai Tour, where he lies eighth overall behind John Degenkolb, saying that cycling’s determination to beat the problem puts it ahead of its rivals in anti-doping controls.

>>> Brian Cookson explains new UCI doping reforms

But BMC rider Gilbert, 32, said that if the media stopped talking about doping, the image of the sport could be drastically improved.

“There’s doping in other sports as well,” Gilbert told Gulf News. “The only difference may be that in cycling we have strong doping controls and in other sports these controls may be either non-existent or most often the associations are not interested in catching the cheats.

“In the case of cycling, and it is a very good thing, we have such strong measures that cyclists don’t even get a chance to defend themselves. Everything becomes so public and it is so embarrassing. But all this is because we have such strong anti-doping measures in our sport. I believe that cycling is not worse than other sports.

“I am of the opinion that cycling is already better [in the field of anti-doping], and perhaps if the media stops speaking about the doping then we may be able to do cycling a huge favour and improve its image drastically. I believe this could be a good step for cycling.”

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.