When people’s salaries and financial well being are tied to their performance, they will always take risks to improve that performance. It is just human nature. There will always be an arms race. Each time new PEDs are discovered, tests have to be created and/or modified to catch them.
When dealing with human performance, there are a lot of grey areas. Tests for the presence of banned substances are fairly straight forward – or so one would think. However, when we get into issues like the Biological Passport, it can become muddled. Riders have bad days – and great ones – without cheating. Timing your training for maximum performance the day of the race is part of the game. That is why I personally am actually quite glad to see the possibility of “mechanical doping” becoming a thing.
My reason is this – it is pretty cut and dry. There is no way for teams or riders to somehow argue their way out of it. No need for lengthy, drawn out panel hearings. Either there is a motor there, or there isn’t. Cut and dry. Oh – and the team throwing the rider under the bus when caught? Not gonna happen. Hiding a motor in a bike frame takes team involvement.
I know that I, for one, was initially skeptical of the whole “mechanical doping” thing. I remember Cancellara’s breakaway in Paris Roubaix, and the “video evidence” of him using a motor? I openly laughed and mocked the claim at the time.
People aren’t laughing quite as much any more.
There are actually a number of products on the market – available for purchase to just about anyone – that show this type of cheating is a very real possibility. Imagine what could happen if someone was investing money in actually adapting this technology specifically for the purpose of cheating?
Cyclingtips posted a video with Greg LeMond demonstrating just such a rigged bike.
As the UCI starts scanning bikes at races for evidence of mechanical doping, and fans start to question the motives behind quickly hiding bikes at races, we are faced with the possibility of a very different manifestation of cheating in the pro peloton. And it is one that can’t be argued away as “tainted beef.” I’d much prefer to see the cheaters nailed in cut-n-dry, clear cut ways. An electric motor is either there, or it isn’t. Simple. This endless showmanship of hiding doping allegations behind the veil of plausible deniability is a drain on the sport – and my desire to continue as a fan.