Doping in Cycling: One Fans Point of View

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30.10.2006/ An open letter by Paula Andrist on, who gave us permission to publish Paula's appeal. 

Some of you may know me, many of you probably don’t (I’m a faithful reader of the DP and often on the chat - DP stands for the US based website ). It doesn’t really matter who I am, except for one point of fact: we are all fans of cycling. I love cycling. You love cycling. We all love cycling. Now if you’re anything like me, you’ve had it up to your eyeballs with all the doping and scandal that our beautiful sport has suffered through the revolving door of the past few years.

I am down right tired of it. So tired of it in fact, that I half-heartedly followed the end of the season, and barely even tracked the progress of the Vuelta a Espana, which happens to be my favorite of the three Grand Tours. Now, for those of you who know me, that will probably be as much a shock to you as me switching teams and forsaking my beloved Euskaltel-Euskadi. For those of you who don’t know me, you’ll think, “Who cares? And who is this crazy woman?”

Well first off, you should care. The more fans we lose, the more the sport is diminished. The more fans we lose, the less the riders will care what we think--wait, maybe they don’t care what we think, but seriously, what serious rider wouldn’t like a fan or two or twelve cheering endlessly for them. The more fans we lose, the less sponsors will participate, and there we go, we lose the sport all together. I would think the fans should rank right up there in the meaning of and reason for sport. If footie didn’t have its adoring fans, what would it be? I’ll tell you what, a bunch of grown men kicking a ball around a large field, and guess what? They wouldn’t be getting paid for it anymore. Without the fans, there is no reason for sponsors or cities to pay salaries; there would be no advertising, as no one would be watching it on TV. That is where the power of the FAN comes in.

In many discussions with my compatriots in the Daily Peloton chat room, we have hashed over this issue. Many are ambivalent, saying that if they are all doped, does it really matter? They’re all cheating anyway. Others just don’t care; I think they have their heads in the sand. They want cycling, no matter what and turn a blind eye to the problems that are growing and threatening our sport.

Then you have the ones like me; the ones who do care, who want a clean sport. I don’t want to see any more 25 year-olds dropping dead from heart problems because of dope they think they “have” to take to just keep up, be competitive or win. It seems these days, you’re damned if you do or you’re damned if you don’t. Either you dope to keep up or excel, or you don’t dope and you don’t have a contract.

I used to be naive and think that only “some” riders did it. Not anymore. I have a hard time believing that most anyone is clean anymore. Call me a cynic; you’d probably not be far off.

As fans, we hold all the power and we don’t even know it. Without us, there would be no reason for the sport, except on the Olympic level of course; but that’s not what we’re talking about. We as fans need to take hold of our power and make our voice heard. I’m not sure how we will accomplish this, but we need to make someone, somewhere, somehow listen to us.

I want cycling to be the example to the whole world that you can eradicate doping issues within sport and have it be effective and lasting. I want riders to not have to be super-human with performance enhancing drugs to compete.

I want natural talent, drive and commitment to be the deciding factors in our sport. OUR sport. I first put the responsibility on the riders themselves for this change. All you pro-riders out there, who read the DP, pass this link on. Let all your comrades, friends, training partners, enemies and teammates know that the FANS are demanding this of you. We don’t want you to dope. All we want of you is hard work and good racing. Is that too much to ask? Stand up together and as a whole say, “No more doping, on any level”. If you’d do that for us, we’d really appreciate it and we’d support YOU.

Secondly, I put responsibility on the sponsors and team management; all of you who are so crazy for results no matter how they are gained. I have heard that in the pursuit of glory a blind eye is often turned by the “higher ups” as to what might be happening within their team to produce results.

I’m not saying it definitely happens, but I suspect it happens, this is how I think it happens: If a rider refuses to dope and does not produce, his contract is not renewed. Of course, there is always another rider who is willing to cross that ethical line and take his place. It is part of the vicious cycle. In my mind, if it does happen this way, someone has to put a stop to it, and sponsors and team management could be essential in that. If sponsors would put more pressure on team management to have “clean” riders, maybe that would make a difference. If team management would stand up to sponsors and communicate that there is only so much we can do to produce results, maybe that would make a difference. I don’t know; I’m just a fan looking for a solution.

Overall, we fans need to have a voice. We need to find a way to get our point across. It is essential that the riders, sponsors, management, UCI and race organizers know that we won’t stand for it anymore. All of the above need to realize that if a fanatic like me quits watching and following cycling that I’m not just an isolated individual, I’m one of many.

We don’t want a dirty sport where you have to cheat to win, or even to just keep up. We want our riders to finish out their careers in good health and be able to live to ripe old ages to relive their glory years in cycling. We want our riders to be able to contribute back to the sport that they obviously love so dearly, that they would put their very lives on the line for it.

I just want my cycling back. I don’t want to wonder each time someone new rises to the top what kind of drugs he was taking to make it that far. I want to be able to share the passion and beauty of this wonderful sport with everyone in the world and not have to worry when the next scandal will break.

So please, sponsors, team management, UCI officials, race organizers and most of all RIDERS, if you’re out there and you’re reading this, it is time to make a change. You need it. We all need it. Most of all, the FANS need it. Let’s bring our sport back to what it once was and what it could be again. That’s all we ask, and if you could do that for us, we’d really appreciate it.

Note: The ideas and viewpoints expressed in this article may or may not reflect the ideas and viewpoints of and or its staff. Any questions or remarks may be addressed to myself directly at

Vistit the website for more interesting stories about the subject. On the dailypeloton forums there is also a thread about the story above.

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