In part 1 of Clive Forth’s delve into doping in enduro, the UCI’s ruling on banned substances was explored and Clive took the time to speak to a long-term Mega Avalanche racer (the ‘incident’ took place at a Mega Avalanche race for those who missed the story), Franck Parolin. Franck has raced in many countries and events organised under differing rulings, so he seemed like a sensible choice of racer to talk to for his feelings on the subject.
Next up, Clive spoke to another French racer who takes part in many of the UCC (Mega organisers) events and another veteran of the sport. Karim Amour has raced in many disciplines, countries, and series and also under differing rulings.
Recovering from recent injury, Karim made his return race debut last weekend, finishing inside the top five in the Mega2RX event that took place in Andorra on the same weekend as the Enduro World Series race in Val d’Allos.
Clive didn’t have a great deal of time to chat to Karim as it was during a race weekend, but we think that Karim’s feelings on the subject and also on the UCI being involved in enduro racing are interesting.
Clive Forth: Good to see you again Karim, how have you been keeping since we saw you last?
Karim Amour: Very well thank you, I broke my collar bone in Metabief just a short while ago but it’s fixed now and I’m here to build my confidence before the bigger Mega Avalanche competition.
CF: How do you like the track here in Vallnord?
KA: I like the course here in Andorra and the weather is usually great, another reason to come back and race. I would also like to keep my title and score some valuable points this weekend.
CF: Great track but not much room to pass.
KA: Yes a good start is key, there is minimal overtaking, a rider needs to make a mistake in order to pass.
CF: Just remind us of some of your career highlights.
KA: Well I’ve been riding for 22 years now and one of my favourite results was in 1993 at Metabief where I took a 3rd place in the downhill.
CF: Out of the many race wins you’ve had any one in particular stand out?
KA: I was in a 4X race against Nicolas Vouilloz, it was the French National Championships and we both gave it our maximum in the final and I beat him, I rode perfect with no mistakes and I felt the whole run was just perfect, it felt great.
CF: That sweet spot where you are fast on the edge but its relaxed and controlled?
KA: Yes exactly, it’s not often you are in this state, it’s a great moment, sometime I catch this feeling buts it’s not for the whole run, just like ten seconds or something,
CF: Yes we can all relate to that great feeling, something we seek and want to hold onto for the whole ride.
KA: Yes exactly, although the older I’m getting the harder it is to be fast and hold that feeling.
CF: Sure, we can hold the feeling but to combine it with the speed is very hard, so just remind us how old you are now?
KA: Im 37 pushing 38.
CF: I see you’re also running the 26’ wheel, any reason in particular?
KA: Yes I’m keeping the 26’ as for now the tyre selection is wider and easier to get the tyre I want. I think for the gravity discipline the 650b will become the standard, they roll better and are still strong, you can keep your speed better. The 29’ is great for cross country but a bit harder to move in the tight terrain, it’s less dynamic
CF: So over the winter there was a press release regarding a French rider who was banned for the use of a masking agent, this sparked a lot of debate and allegations on the forums and social media sites, is there anything you would like to say on the subject?
KA: It’s damaging when a mountain bike race or racer has a problem like this, I hope in the future we have more controls, like the passport system. I think this is good for the riders because it’s not good to have some riders who don’t follow the rules.
CF: Do you think the risks associated with this type of behaviour are worth the rewards in enduro and marathon downhill events?
KA: No. Right now we have nothing to win, it’s only for the honour. But you know sometimes when people want to be under the spotlight and want to be famous they will do anything, for me I think this is ridiculous, this type of thing in mountain biking is not the main thing. When you reflect upon a mistake like this then you can see that the result is not true. For the mountain bike rider it’s easy if you want to do it, you have the internet and you can buy anything from the net, anybody can do it, its always going to be on the conscience of the people that do it though, you have a choice.
CF: This weekend sees the second round of the Enduro World Series, I’m quite surprised to see you here [in Andorra] and not there, is the series something your interested in?
KA: Not at this stage, having broken my collar bone I want to get more confident and get some good results and take some pleasure in my riding with no pressure, I am still quite competitive and if I finished like 38th place I would not feel so great and this would do my confidence no good. The competition there is so high and I need to be in good shape and get a good result, represent Kona to the best of my ability.
CF: Maybe next year you will race the series?
KA: That depends on my progression, how I feel and if it’s official, just now everybody is saying, “you’re not entering the World Cup Enduro?” I’m like, it’s not the World Cup! It’s not official.
CF: Because it’s not UCI sanctioned?
KA: Yes exactly.
CF: So would it be better if the UCI adopt it and give ranking points and rainbow stripes?
KA: You now everybody talks, well some people talk badly about the UCI, you know they say that the UCI keep the money and blah blah blah, but you know when you see the World Championships and UCI’s involvement in mountain bike in downhill and cross country they don’t make bad events, they find good place and make a good race. They are in a position where they have to manage the money and so they are liable, if the companies want to make more money then this is good for the riders but sometimes not so good for the sport.
CF: Well that just opens up a whole new can of worms and we don’t have time before your start to divulge, thank you for your time and interrupting your warm up to give this interview, have a great race and stay safe.
I really do appreciate these guys talking like this before a race, I know what its like to line up in that grid, Karim spoke with such passion and the sincerity in his voice shows that he is clearly serious about the subjects covered. Maybe now the ice has been broken I can get some more direct questions on the table when I see them next.
For now though the rider who was given the 6-month ban still remains a mystery. I’ve contacted the French Federation and I await a response, you will be first to know should any more light be shed on the subject.
Till next time, mine’s a freshly squeezed orange juice and a club sandwich with a sprinkling of magic mushrooms please, that’s not on the list right?