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DRUGS!!!!
1 Oct, 2004

Now that got your attention.The world-wide profile of cycling has recently been firmly placed in the spotlight with the proliferation of drug offences. It may be considered an unfavourable time for many, but perhaps cycling needs to be figuratively 'put through the wringer' before we have a level playing field again. 

The negative impact that performance enhancers have on the human body is relatively well documented,  but it begs the question what the negative impacts are for clean athletes trying to compete with the 'monstrous other'.  From a personal point of view, two dimensions play a role in the fate of a clean athlete competing against drugs, a mental and physical perspective.

As prudent and devoted as one can be in with a strict nutritional, training and racing regime, the physical advantages of an 'enhanced' athlete dramatically show after two to three days in a tour. If by example, doped athletes are fully recovering day in and out over the period of a 12 day tour that produces increasing average speeds (!), the  normal human body incurs wear and tear that range from strained backs, lowered iron/ ferretin levels, general fatigue and immune dysfunction. These may sound relatively undramatic, but at elite level racing when there may be over 120 race days in a season, this will cost you your job and have a long-term negative impact on health.  

Furthermore these jobs are like any, they are a means for providing for a family, paying a mortgage, bills and more basically, a means for merely surviving. In essence one could parody drug offenders to be taking the very food off a clean athlete's table. As a resource, jobs, sponsorship and publicity are limited and if one is unable to compete, one makes a relatively swift exit.

Mentally, if you are competing against drugs, it pays not to dwell on it.  There is a chance to be in the mix in a one-day event and these are shining lights of the calendar. But to maintain a job, there is largely the requirement that you are of some use in all events, despite the major events( Worlds and Olympics) being one day.

From a personal perspective, the recent drug testing advancements are a major step in the right direction. I do feel it is pertinent to point out there are clean people competing. I had female team-mates that won the overall road world-cup clean, the female grand-tours clean and it is these examples that I always looked to.Perhaps also of somewhat relative importance is quantifying that every pedal revolution I have done has been clean, racing with professional road teams from 1993-2002 and MTB 2003.

-Susy Pryde

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