Doping in cycling : the managers of the team are responsible for the excesses of their riders

Doping in cycling : the managers of the team are responsible for the excesses of their riders

Tuesday, June 13, the international cycling Union has suspended for 30 days the Italian team, Bardiani-CSF, after the confirmation of the positive control of two of its riders at the start of the Tour of Italy. A first for the Giro, it is not surprising that it concerns a team a professional continental, second division in the world.

Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni have been convinced to make use of growth hormones up to the race. The team manager Bruno Reverberi, who has already had to explain positive tests from its riders in the past, has used the language elements listed in the traditional culture of cycling in these circumstances. The Italian refutes any ” objective responsibility “ in the following pattern :

” (Giovanni) Agnelli, was the head of 100, 000 employees at Fiat, was not responsible if one of them, once home, dealait of the drug. “

even so, this “Agnelli” of cycling cannot be accounting practices of his riders when they are not physically within the team. This rhetorical individualizing rejecting the fault on the rider, however, has disappeared from most of the member teams of the World Tour, the first division of the cycling world. Recently, the manager of one of the teams said in favor of an anti-doping matter, that it was his responsibility as an employer to gain a foothold in the daily life of the rider.

The team Bardiani, here in 2016, is suspended for 30 days by the UCI.

However, three years earlier, in a previous case, his discourse was still that of the “old bike” : betrayal, lack of responsibility… Now, in this team like most of those in the first division, a supervision greatly increased can not only support the rider, and also have the almost daily monitoring data biological, physiological, psychological workouts. This is an important issue because the riders prepare in them, that is to say, out of the presence of their employer, between 50 and 80% days of the season, according to their profile.

remote Monitoring

In these teams, the responsibility of supervision extends to the period when the rider is preparing to be out of their sight, to the home, such as a teleworker. This for two reasons. The first is sport and commercial : to secure the investment of the company that is the cycling team, it is necessary to make predictable the performance of the riders, knowing how they prepare. The second reason is that it is about producing a performance according to ethical standards.

These monitoring practices are to the bicycle what the labels organic and fair trade are agriculture and trade. Thus, a team that has a ethical “anti-doping” is now implementing a follow-up to the runner limiting the organizational risk of doping.

The coach of a team of the World Tour told me there is a little bit about how, thanks to the remote monitoring of the performance, one of his runners that practiced without the say with a preparer dubious was quickly identified and placed back on the right path.

The communication continues with the riders through dedicated tools is a necessity to avoid problems. Stefano Zanatta, sports director of the training Bardiani, is undoubtedly aware of this need and experiencing as a ” failure “ of ” not felt come things “. Even if it does not encourage its riders to dope, the manager of a team bears the responsibility of having built an organization leaving only the riders face their own weaknesses, physical and mental, particularly meaningful prior to an event as important to their career than the Giro.


let us Reverse the metaphor car of Bruno Reverberi : because a performance racing prepares home a lot of the rider, the manager of a team is as much responsible for the excesses of one of its riders that Giovanni Agnelli had been one of its cars on which the brakes would have released, because it was built in his factory.

so far, Bruno Reverberi can he be held entirely responsible ? His training has for a score of riders to a budget of three million euros approximately, we will inform the journal L’equipe. On this budget, it is necessary to ensure the logistics of the team whose scope of activity extends to the european level ; ensure the wages of the management and the riders. This budget is insufficient to mentor their riders according to minimum quality standards.

As in many teams, professional continental, the sports director is often acting coach, sometimes without being trained for it ; the doctor, part-time, is not present on all the races and therefore cannot ensure a continuous follow-up of the riders ; the riders are building around them, local networks of preparation and of “care” unknown teams, and sometimes sour…

Should we blame the sponsor ? Probably not, because can we ask him to invest beyond what they can expect in terms of media coverage ?

there is, therefore, within the framework of a governance contract in all of professional cycling, a balance of emergency : a standard organizational real for the teams, including those of second and third division, and a viable economic model for this secondary circuit so that dies by the cycling of the soils, the foundation of the World Tour.

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