I am glad that I am not a professional cyclist right now. The sport has a rediculous amount of negative publicity heaped upon it on an annual basis because there are not only a (seemingly) large number of cheaters in the sport, but the governing body that is supposed to catch the cheaters is either corrupt or incompetent. With the sport’s largest stage beginning in a few weeks, the directors of the Tour de France have decided that they need to do something to make their event less of a mockery. They have decided to only let riders into their event who sign the UCI‘s anti-doping charter.
On the surface, I think that this is a great idea. The problem that I have with it, though, is that nobody in their right mind would sign it. Signing the charter states the athlete…
- …pledges that they are not involved in doping. (This is good.)
- …that the athlete will submit DNA samples to Spanish authorities. (more information)
- …pledge a year’s salary on top of their two-year doping ban if caught violating the charter.
Like I said, on the surface this is a good thing. I certainly agree with the first point. The problems that I have with the charter touch the second point but are mostly concerned with the third point. I would not even consider signing the charter until I was sure that the UCI had implemented a way to test for doping that was not illegal, that did not violate the athlete’s privacy, that did not have constant unsubstantiated leaks that could break an athletes career even if they are unfounded, and that had better control over all blood and urine samples so that they could not be tampered with.
At this point, it doesn’t matter how many dozens or hundreds of tests that they perform in a legal, ethical, and honest manner. It doesn’t matter how many negative or positive tests that there are. I would not trust my fate to them until they can have even just one year without a scandal. I have a very hard line against dopers and cheaters, but athletes have rights and the UCI does not seem to recognize that no matter how much lip service they give it.
Which brings me back to why I am glad that I am not a professional cyclist. I think that the race directors mean well, and in most other sports I think that they would be making an effective maneouver. However, I don’t think that the specific charter is at all fair to the athletes. It will be interesting to see how many do sign.