Cycle racing is one of the few non-contact sports that have been popularized thanks to the success of the Tour de France. Because of its popularity, more and more sponsors pitch in millions of dollars to sponsor cycling teams. However, the sport's reputation has suffered some scandals due to reports of doping among its cyclists. If you plan to organize a cycling competition, here are some steps that can be taken to prevent enlisting cyclists who may have taken drugs to enhance their performance.
1. Follow Union Cycliste Internationale's (UCI) lead.
Doping results in abnormalities in an individual's blood constitution. In light of this, the UCI has implemented a system that will check for blood contaminants. This is done by requiring all the riders to provide blood samples regularly for laboratory testing. These blood samples are then examined to determine if there are any abnormalities, which could be a signal of doping.
2. Test all riders on the team.
Most professional racing competitions randomly test riders' blood samples after the race. So essentially, riders who leave the race do not get monitored, and only those who finish the race are tested for doping. These riders who conveniently run off when they are not needed and only come back to the race to give support to the team may have had a shot or two of performance-enhancing steroids while they were in their team's car or hotel. Setting up a system that will make blood sampling mandatory even for non-finishers will eliminate this unchecked problem.
3. Do testing even when it's not cycling season.
The UCI has recognized the need to regularly check on riders even when it is not cycling season. They would usually go to locations where cycling teams train, to extract blood samples from the athletes. While this program has raised some rather negative reactions from professional cycling teams, the system has proven to be quite effective in curbing the practice of doping.
4. Encourage riders to confess any doping activity among their teammates.
This is not an easy task. Riders will always be loyal to their teams. However, if riders are given some sort of positive encouragement and commendation for providing information about doping within their teams, then others will hopefully follow.
Cycling is one sport that has its share of doping controversies. Cleaning up the image of professional cycling is crucial in regaining not only the public's trust but the sponsors' as well. This way, the sport will thrive, and hopefully more and more talented riders will be given a chance to participate.