Is doping in cycling a concern? Athletes around the world strive to be the best in their field. That is no different in cycling. However, many people have used substances to gain a competitive advantage. While people want to see the best cyclists perform at an optimal level, they don’t want their heroes to have used non-sanctioned substances to win races over their competitors. As a result, there have been increased advancements in the detection of the use of illegal substances and higher sanctions will be paid for getting caught.

Doping in Cycling

What substances do cyclists try to use to gain that competitive advantage? Some of the different substances that people use include steroids, human growth hormone, blood doping, and EPO. While there may never be a way to stay ahead of the people who are willing to cheat to be the best, there are sanctioning boards that are doing their best to crack down on those that are caught.

Unannounced Testing


One way that the UCI is attempting to stop the use of unsanctioned substances while cycling is to do smarter testing. In addition to their regular testing procedures, the UCI is including “surprise pop-up testing missions” in order to catch people when they are not expecting to be tested. When the test is planned, someone who is cheating can try to find ways around the test. The same cannot be done when the test is not expected by the cyclist. The hope is that unexpected testing will deter people from using non-sanctioned substances when training for a cycling event.


Length of Sample Saving


Athletes, including cyclists, who are searching for that competitive advantage through substances are always looking for loopholes to get around the known non-sanctioned substances. While these new substances might not be detectable today, they are still unsanctioned by the UCI. As a result, the new rules will be in place to save specimens for 10 years instead of the previous 8 years. With advancement in detection practices, the sanctioning board will be able to go back for 10 years to find a newly discovered way to cheat the system.


Strengthened Sanctions


The penalties that will be enforced for unsanctioned substances has increased to four years. First intentional presence, use, or possession of a prohibited substance will receive the four year ban. In addition prohibited method of use can also lead to the ban. There will be a 4-year ban for a person who attempts to avoid testing through the refusal of a test, evading testing procedures, or providing an altered sample.


Obligation to Report


There is an obligation to report knowledge of a cyclist using or possessing an unsanctioned substance. If a person suspects and does not report the information, they can also face consequences from the UCI.


Team Sanctions


What happens to the team? If 2 cyclists would happen to test positive, the team can get sanctioned. The team can be suspended from participating in any international event. It would be up to the UCI to determine the length of the sanction. The time can be from 15 to 45 days. What happens if a 3rd rider would happen to test positive. The entire team would be sidelined for 15 days to 12 months. 12 months is a long time for an entire cycling team. 


In Conclusion


The UCI is serious about trying to cut down on doping in cycling. They want a clean sport where their elite athletes are elite because of the training that they do; not because of the drugs they take.