After writing about Riis not riding the Tour of Bejing I got thinking more about the current doping landscape in cycling.
From an outsider perspective, it seems that the one who pays most for doping is the rider. To be sure they are the ones that ‘put the needle in’ or at the very least allowed it to be put in. What part does a team play in the decision to dope though?
In The Secret Race, Tyler Hamilton claims that Bjarne Riis encouraged doping on his team. Times were certainly different then so I’m not saying that Riis encouraged or turned a blind eye to Contador, but loosing Contador’s points is a way to punish a team for not doing everything in their power to prevent doping.
No one can deny that there was lots of pressure from team managers and coaches to dope. Many of them have paid for it, but not all. I think that the UCI needs to come up with a way to punish teams for not doing everything in it’s power to prevent doping. Some may say that the loss of points does this, but it’s still really a punishment to a rider.
What if a solid domestique gets caught doping? What if their team turned a blind eye (or encouraged it)? That domestique is so much less desirable when they get off suspension because they bring no points. Contador is just desirable, he gets a bit of a pass on the points because he’s Contador. Mr Domestique does not. So their team didn’t help ensure that doping didn’t happen, and the team just leaves them out to dry. Doesn’t seem like a fair punishment to me.