Counterproductive way to fight doping

So, it looks like Eric Zabel, the German sprinter, admitted to doping back in 1996. As a result, he’s being prevented from racing in the World Road Race championships this year.

While I’m a fierce believer that the current regime of testing is bearing fruit, and that the zero tolerance on folks popping positive now is the way to go, I think that for the sake of getting pro cycling back on solid ground there should be an amnesty program offered for folks who confess to having doped in the past.

While Zabel’s admission brings into question his past accomplishments, it also makes his third in this year’s Tour de France green jersey (Sprinters) competition that much more impressive, as he accomplished it without dope. Folks like Zabel and David Millar, who have raced both dirty and clean, should be used as ambassadors for clean sport.

There is a small issue of fairness – Millar served a two year suspension, whereas Zabel will likely not have to pay for his cheating (he’s in his 30’s, has good palmares, and if suspended has incentive to retire) – but that’s water under the bridge. As much as we’d like, it’s impossible to ever correctly repay past wrong. So, yes, Zabel did cheat, but did so under a different set of ethics than are in place today. As long as he’s clean today, and committed to remaining clean, and helping others to remain clean, he should be allowed to ride.

2 thoughts on “Counterproductive way to fight doping”

  1. Wholly agreed!

    I think that the UCI is about as crooked as other governing bodies of sport – like FIFA and FIS – in terms of trying to have things both ways. I commend them for running much more stringent anti-doping regulations, which have been watershed this year in cleaning out the cheating ranks.

    But they need to grant amnesty to those who are currently clean, even if they used in the past. Sure, Zabel didn’t race clean back in the 1990s, but he’s clean now and has admitted the error of his ways. Yet UCI seems to be of the mindset that there’s no statute of limitations, formal or not, which is simply ludicrous.

    I urge ASO to break free of the UCI next year with the Tour de France. I think that they have a better understanding of how to keep the sport clean than the UCI.

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