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The Real Cost of Doping, from BikePure

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(The following is an unedited email from Myles at BikePure we received on Aug. 2nd)

This is the REAL cost of doping.

Mikel Astarloza cheated his way to stage 16 victory in this years Tour de France, but the testers thankfully got him- So all OK? Nope!

Because the weakness of one, individual rider’s action, deeply damages investment into all of our sport. Just like Shumacher’s positive tests was the nail in German investment into cycling: Astarloza positive result has jeopardize the future of one of Spain’s few remaining top professional teams. Stefan’s doping cost one entire Pro Tour team their funding, another (the last remaining) slashed their budget and five smaller continental teams out-, An EST 150 jobs gone in the German cycling. 150 families without income because of tag team attack of Jan and Schumacher. This is the REAL cost of doping.

This morning the Spanish sports newspaper AS, reported Astarloza’s suspension could threaten financial backing of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team. What sponsor wants their name associated with scandal and cheats? One positive could be painted over, but Euskaltel were named and shamed only three weeks previous when another of their riders, Iñigo Landaluze tested positive for the third-generation EPO during this year’s Dauphiné Libéré.

Euskaltel-Euskadi is in danger. Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes’ doping ring destroyed two other two Spanish-based (Liberty Seguros and Kelme) in 2006. So you would think the team management would have fired him on the spot and apologised for bringing cycle sport into disrepute. Nope!

Team officials are sticking by Astarloza’s declarations of innocence and are waiting for the results of the follow-up B-samples before action is taken. Mikel Astarloza is still on the pay roll. It is this singular action that will remove the funding from cycling. The sport will been seen as a dangerous investment. Cycling slowly killing itself if nothing is done to promote clean sport and get rid of the dopers. The actual pro-tour team is a management company and riders. Euskaltel-Euskadi are the sponsors who back the management and have nothing to do with the running and decisions within the team. The Euskaltel funded management are unrepentant supporters of doping in cycling. The Euskaltel-Euskadi communication company, who pay the wages, will eventually get fed up with the disparaging headlines and pull out. Mikel Astarloza and Iñigo Landaluze will be to blame.

Floyd Landis back racing at Team Ouch- everyone opens arms. Short memories. Recall Phonak, Andy Rihs the team manager, had signed a three-year contract with iShares to become the team’s title sponsor beginning in 2007. When Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone and ruined the TDF, the three year deal , supporting 50 wages for riders and staff:- gone, lost. The team disbanded at the end of the 2006 season team, Landis single handedly dumped nearly $17
million investment from cycling.

9 jobs at Saunier Duval that were not filled in rebranding Fuji-Servetto on smaller budget- thanks Ricco.

This is the REAL cost of doping.

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14 years ago

Thank you for this BikePure article, very interesting. So basically a team is only entitled to stop paying the wages when the guiltiness is definitevely proven? That explains a lot…

But it would be so interesting to know if doping scandals also harm existing teams (and if yes, how much)? Like : would Columbia HTC or Caisse d’Epargne have a higher budget than they do now? And, would this really be profitable for the bike industry (hiring more technicians, setting up U23 teams etc.) or would it only lead to an inflation of the riders wages?

I currently work with a former elite cyclist who raced with the Jalabert generation : he tells me there are far more opportunities than 20 years ago : more teams, better mentallity, better knowledge of training science etc. So we we just have to keep that in mind. The situation is for from being ideal, but thanks to a lot of improvements over the past decades and investors who still believe that cycling is attractive (popularity of the races), we have a quite good sitution…

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