SKYPE: Andy Layhe - Bike Pure info at

Are we angry at the rider or the rules?


Standing 10k from the finish at last years World Championships, when I saw Vino come round the corner first, my heart deflated a little. Yes, he has served his ban, and with the current system, is fully deserving of a chance at victory. But like the supporters who ‘Booed’ him coming across the line as he won Liege-Bastogne-Liege, it is hard to forget the blood doping headlines of the 2007 Tour de France, overshadowing worthy athletes performances.

He is currently being held up to scorn, mainly because he was such a high profile rider at the time of his drug ban and people automatically, understandably remember the harm he did to our sports reputation. The key to the out poring of opinion against Vinokourov is the simple parallel:

The higher the profile the rider caught doping – the greater the damage to the sport.

If Manuel Vazquez Hueso, Caja sur  (who was suspended today for taking EPO) ever return to the peloton- I doubt the ‘boos’ will be as loud.

Still the big question: Should all crime be permitted to return to the sport? Life bans or a punishment to suit the crime?
One factor that has totally been overlooked and Bike Pure believe should be a factor in both determining the length of ban and the permission to return – is the beneficial performance factors from prolonged use of drugs.

For example, the use of EPO gives a rider the proven ability to train harder, for longer and quicken recovery. If training/racing is done also with an anabolic agent, this will also artificially build, advantageous lean, muscle mass.
Even after a period of non drug use where the ‘hemo’ levels return to normal and the bodies natural hormone levels are restored: the doper’s body is left with muscles that are trained to work harder, for longer.

Initial research has hypothesised that only a forced period of total inactivity would see these artificial gains reduced. It was common in the past, before out of competition testing, (and currently in countries where OCT is rare or avoidable) for riders to undertake a block of training, using drugs to improve performance and then return to competition with the drug trace dissipated, but the performance improvement retained.

More investigation needs to be established to provide definitive, retained benefits/against timeline for diverse drugs, for our sport to have total fairness restored throughout the peloton.


  • george Haeut
    April 26, 2010

    The rider, no remorse – no trust

  • April 26, 2010

    Most societies don’t lock criminals away for good and to some extent allow for rehabilitation of offenders. Drug rules should allow the same, certainly for the first offence. Take the Ukrainian under 23 squad as an example, who is more culpable, the coaches or the riders? I’m guessing some of these young riders thought that what they were doing counted for “normal” and was the only way to get their chance at the big time. If they failed to conform to the regime, who knows, they might have been booted off the programme. Having said that, as George said, “No remorse, no trust.” Maybe as well as bans there needs to be some sort of rider education programme including extensive community work. Maybe that way we would see riders earning the right to get back into the peloton instead of just serving their time. 2nd offence: life ban.

  • BikePure Italia
    April 26, 2010

    Fully agree with John, I do feel that some younger riders have been tempted by coaches (and the Ukrainian case – a parent) to dope.
    The current system is not working. Periods of ban need to be accompanied by efforts to show remorse, full admission and disclosure.

  • Ben
    April 26, 2010

    The rider, and the RIDERS rule of silence.

    Trouble is he never made his statement early enough, he just needed to encapsulate the words “I admit I was a cheat, I cheated for X number of years whilst being in X team. Whilst I was doping X, X and X were also using these products X, X and X and we avoided being caught by the testers by doing X, X and X. I am ashamed and sorry to all the fans of cycling who I have lied to and the riders who I beat unfairly. For all this I say sorry and want to return to the peloton after serving my deserved ban, race clean and work with the authorities to catch others who have made the same mistakes and fraud as I have”.

    Then I will forgive, until then I boo Vino and his results.

  • April 26, 2010

    Well said, Ben

  • April 26, 2010

    In the case of Vino, most folks would seem to be angry at him, not the rules – because he hasn’t been “contrite” enough for them.

    While an apology is always nice, the rules don’t require it, and while the fans are free to boo Vino’, as long as he’s complied w/ the terms of his suspension he should be permitted to race.


    Because it’s a slippery slope and totally arbitrary to insist that a rider be “remorseful” before they are permitted back in the bunch, or deemed worthy of a cheer. For what does it mean to show remorse, and who is the arbiter of that decision?

    It’s totally subjective and by extension – dangerous. Certainly we as fans are free to make any decision we want concerning who we’ll support, but at the official level there can be no double-standard.

    I think what Ben says is fine: that until Vino meets Ben’s own personal conditions, he’ll withhold support for the Kazakh and will, in fact, boo him. That’s fine, and Vino has to deal with the hostility of Ben and those like him, as long as he doesn’t speak in the terms of a Millar or Cobra.

    In my opinion, he shouldn’t have to in order to race, and Vino has made it crystal clear with his open letter to the press today that we’ve heard as much of an apology as he’s prepared to offer.

    It is what it is, and I can only hope that Vino learned not to play with fire, and that he won’t sully the sport by falling foul of the testers again.

  • April 26, 2010

    I agree with you, Joe, but equally, Vino shouldn’t be moaning that the press/fans aren’t giving him a break. If he had been contrite, remorseful and open from the start then he might have a point. He wasn’t, and his “open letter” is a long way from what most folk would accept as a full and frank admission of past failures. According to the rules he can race again, and nobody would dispute his right to do that (in a legal sense). But he talks of his result at LBL being, “Revenge for me.” Revenge for what? Getting caught?

  • Gert Van Dertan
    April 26, 2010

    “I can’t do more than what the sport regulations ask me, to prove my honesty.”
    I read his open letter- vino doesnt apologize.
    He still owes a years wages to the UCI for breaking the rider contract. Why did the UCI give him his license?

  • Francois Culeu
    April 26, 2010

    Joe, You lost the ability to have a opinion about drugs, when you sold them to other athletes AFTER they nearly ended your own life!

  • cathy
    April 27, 2010

    I have to go with Joe on this one. It’s impossible to enforce or even judge another person’s remorse. One rider may very eloquently express remorse that is insincere. While another, who feels great remorse, is unable to express it adequately. Cultural and language differences among riders only magnify this issue. Apparently the UCI has less of a problem with the wages than some fans since they are allowing him to race. Hopefully Vinokourov is clean now. If not, hopefully he, or any other rider that is doping will be caught. Until then the results are the results, and pouting that your favorite rider didn’t win, even booing the winner, is just bad sportsmanship.

  • BikePure NY
    April 27, 2010

    Santi Perez of blood doping and Puerto fame won Subida al Naranco today. Seville wins in Mexico- I feel week

  • May 4, 2010

    You know, the trouble with this is we are punishing the symptom, not the root cause. The riders are the ones that are systematically being taken advantage of by those that have the most to gain — corporate interests, doctors, lawyers, sponsors, media, and the rest of the cesspool. We have monetized sports, and yet, we sit back and criticize a rider that may have been subjected to performance enhancers since their talent was discovered. Pantani going bald as a teenager? Really? Canadian female athlete banned for life… the list goes on.
    Change our priorities, and we remove the problem.

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