Lee’s Lowdown: What The WADA!

Lowdown: As WADA now has new powers to sanction anti-doping organizations that fail to comply with the code, it looked like things were getting brighter on the doping front. But, as always, someone comes along and ruins it all: Ivan Basso gets a new job, Father dopes son, George Hincapie rides the Cape Epic and Tramadol just refuses to be banned.

Can we get a drum roll please folks! We are about to announce the latest fox to be released amongst the chicks, the newest wolf to strap a bit of white shag carpet to his back and nestle in amongst the flock till night fall, the freshest virus to be injected into the bloodstream…

Basso back in his Discovery days

Yes, that is correct, we at the Federation of ‘WTF Is Going On’ are pleased as drug-laced punch to announce that Ivan Basso is to take charge of all development teams connected to Trek-Segafredo for 2017 and – wait for it – will also represent both brands at races.

Hot diggety. You might have thought that Trek would have had enough of working with cheats after their association with a certain Texan went all pear-shaped but no, they’re more than ok with giving a job to a guy ‘associated’ with doping.

Tex and his old chum Ivan

Of course, much like Clinton (Bill, not Hilary, though seeing Hilary after she lost the recent election someone might have told her to try breathing more deeply) and his non-inhalation, Basso in 2007 admitted, after CONI re-opened his case that came out of the Operación Puerto scandal, to having contacted Dr. Fuentes’ clinic with the intention to engage in blood doping.

Thankfully he was really suspended by CONI and they didn’t just attempt to do it, as Basso with EPO. Anyway, this former pro is the guy Trek and Segafredo want to represent them, and – I’m sure they asked around – this is the guy that the parents of the kids on the development teams want to be coaching and guiding their children.

Awesomeness.

Teo Muis, the caring father

In other heart-warming news a 17 year old Dutch kid got busted for amphetamine and nandrolone and then admitted that his father, Teo Muis, a former pro, had injected him, telling his son – let me say that again, HIS SON – that the drugs were a mix of vitamins.

The kid got a two year ban (halved from 4) and his dad was banned from all connection with cycling for life. Those of you who say we should let everyone dope should like this little tale, and yes, the sarcasm implied is deep, because if you let people do that, and indeed if we continue to let doping go as it is, merely tapping away at the tip of a very dirty and very large iceberg, then parents will be doping their kids in ever greater numbers.

Now here’s some good news (don’t worry it won’t last long) from WADA. The WADA Foundation Board met this weekend just gone and provided the agency with new powers to sanction the world anti-doping organizations that fail to comply with the WADA code.

WADA Athlete Chair Beckie Scott was loving it, saying that: “If we all agree that WADA should be independent and empowered as the regulator of doping in sport, then how could we not agree to equip WADA with the tools it needs to do its job fully,” Scott said. “On behalf of athletes, I feel confident in saying that we are pleased that this decision has been made today in the interest of clean sport.”

Yes! We agree! Clean sport would be great! So let’s ban Tramadol!

What do you mean ‘No!’?

Some of the side effects of Tramadol

Tramadol is causing such a stir that even the UCI is getting in on calls to have it banned, just like those pro teams that all used it for ages before seeing that the fact that it copies pretty exactly other drugs that are banned did not make for good PR in the ‘post-doping age’ (that hurt to even type, because it’s bollocks). But WADA, for the cycling gods only now why, are refusing to ban it yet again, meaning that in 2017 anyone wanting to kill the pain and go a little deeper and sleepier whilst operating a very fast bicycle will be able to do so at any UCI race.

Tramadol was on the WADA monitoring list for two years but has still to be banned, despite the fact that any person with even a semblance of a mind can see that it fulfills the WADA checklist that sees other drugs banned.

This states that a drug will be prohibited if it “meets two of the following three criteria: it has the potential to be performance enhancing; can be detrimental to the health of an athlete; and it is contrary to the spirit of sport.”

Right, so, Trammys out then. But no. Now, tell me how if WADA folk go on about how WADA is working to ensure the interest of clean sport, how can this drug not be banned? This is a product, remember, that has been blamed for several of the bad crashes we have seen at the end of a race in recent years by guys inside the peloton. And you know as I do, if pros are complaining in enough numbers about a drug then it has to be real bad!

Makes no sense, this refusal to listen, and serves only to obfuscate the already hard to fathom thought process of some of those at WADA.

And finally, back to the kind of story that will heat up the heart of your cockles, the news that George Hincapie will ride the 2017 Cape Epic alongside former teammate Cadel #lovinglittlewhitedogs Evans.

George and Cadel to ride the Cape Epic in 2017

Oddly enough, the very well known cycling site that broke the news made no mention of George taking a huge dump in the mouth of cycling when he rode that final Tour of his and took the lead onto the Champs despite he and his team and his manager knowing that he would soon be exposed as a drug cheat. Odd that.

What to me though is even stranger is that the organizers at the Epic, who have a policy of allowing no rider with a doping offense post Jan 1st 2013 to enter, allowed him in and then announced it with such fanfare. Sure, George was never actually busted but let’s remember that he ‘retired’ after ‘the story’ came out. Technically ok? Sure, the Epic rules say he can race. But ethically?

Answers on a postcard please…


Lee Rodgers is a former professional road racer on the UCI Asia Tour circuit now racing MTB professionally around the world. His day job combines freelance journalism, coaching cyclists, event organizing and consulting work. You can keep up with his daily scribblings over at www.crankpunk.com.


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