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Should a Drugs Ban Be For Life, and Should the Banned Rider Be Named?

Tongues have been wagging and fingers have been pointing for some time. It came to light in September of last year that a French cyclist at the 2011 Megavalanche in the Reunion Islands had been found with hydrochlorothiazide in his test sample. Whilst not a performance–enhancing drug, it has historically been used as a masking agent by sports cheats for years…and is a banned substance…

From Dirt Issue 136 – June 2013

Words by Mike Rose. Photo by Steve Jones.

The cyclist received a six–month (off–season) ban and has been left unnamed. This has angered many, it is the first real case in ‘gravity’ racing. Many other sports have huge problems with banned substances, road cycling’s trials and tribulations have been well publicised…it is everywhere. So the question is, should the rider have been named and made an example of, and should a drugs ban be for life?

TRACY MOSELEY    PRO ENDURO RIDER AND EX–DH WORLD CHAMP

Being named and banned for life would send out a clear message that doping will not be tolerated. Cycling has already been badly tainted by drug abuse that we should be doing everything we can to eradicate it from Enduro racing. Set a precedent from the outset and stick to it.

It seems like an easy thing to say, but I think the issue is more complicated than that and often each case is unique. We hear many stories of athletes claiming that they took a banned substance without knowing. Under these circumstances is it right to ban them forever? As an athlete that gets tested regularly I often have to consider what medication I take and make sure I have asked the right questions from the doctor. This is part of your duty as a professional athlete, making a mistake is a failing in your job…maybe you should be punished for that?

It’s a very difficult topic to have a clear cut answer to, but I think with doping being seen so widely across all sports that we should consider a more heavy–handed approach in the future as the current system has obviously failed. We should be doing something to keep Enduro true to itself from the start and if naming riders and banning them for life is the only way that will make a difference then I say ‘yes’.

FABIEN BAREL         PRO ENDURO RIDER AND EX–DH WORLD CHAMP

Doping is an important subject, and if it is true that someone has tested positive then I do believe he should be named. The only reason that this did not happen in this case is that the ruling came from the international committee of doping control, not the French national federation. The FFC would have named the rider and actually required that he was taken off the race results, so evidence of the person’s name will appear soon.

Mountain biking is trying to distance itself from road cycling and its drug problems, and having radical rules to keep the sport clean seems to me to be very important. We are a natural sport, with passionate people. The core of the sport comes from riding, but also from the emotion we share all together. There has to be a mutual respect.

ASH SMITH   TRANS–PROVENCE RACE ORGANISER

2013 will possibly be the most important year that Enduro will ever see. We really could do without being tarred with the same brush as road cycling or marred by an idiot individual such as the ‘French Mega guy’. The best way to deal with it is to make a resounding statement immediately on the drugs matter.

Enduro bases itself on the good ingredients of MTB. I think it’s an extremely clean discipline, but to keep it this way we need to back up the words ‘zero tolerance’ with ‘no ifs or buts’ punishments. Unfortunately the recent case of the ‘unnamed’ French rider served as a positive advert for doping, so epic was the mishandling of the situation. I believe that the national federation involved made a genuine and forgivable mistake. The rider has potentially done Enduro some irreparable damage. He let everyone down, not least his fellow competitors.

To discourage and deter anyone from doing this again the rider should have been handed a life ban from MTB competition and have been named and shamed. I will never let him enter a race which I organise…it’s not as if people don’t know who it is!

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