What’s the right punishment for doping? It’s a serious question. As an amateur is it a lesser or greater misdeed than that of a professional? We know that amateurs are willing to take risks of all kinds for their sport, cyclists especially. Cycling comes with inherent risks–crashes are part and parcel, especially if you’re racing. We accept that, and some push their limits more than others. But when it comes to amateur racing and doping this appears to be on the up.

GFNY reaffirmed their zero tolerance policy on doping this week after another amateur tested positive who was due to ride one of their events. GFNY rules specifically state that if a rider is caught it’s a lifetime ban from any of their events. The rider will also be charged for the doping control test itself and will be required to reimburse GFNY for any damages to its reputation as a result of the positive test.

Lifetime bans in sport for any form of cheating always have ‘fors’ and ‘against’ sides. It’s a tricky one to navigate, set the punishment too low and it’s not a deterrent, set too high there’s no chance for the reformer to come back and show they’ve seen the light of truth. Even at elite level it’s very rare that lifetime bans are handed out, and when they are the rider’s doping has to have been pretty prolific for a sanction that severe to be given; I think we can all think of a certain name.
But Since when did it have to become routine to perform out of competition tests on amateurs? Especially when the prize purse for an event for the first male and female is a bike. It’s probably a pretty nice bike, but still, it’s not a €100,000 to walk away with in your pocket.

Doping in professional cycling is nothing new, it’s been around since cycle racing began. The question is, is it new to amateur racing or has it always been happening, only now that it’s being tested for we have proof that amateurs are doping too?

For more information on GFNY: https://gfny.com/

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Words: Hannah Troop Photos: GFNY / Sportograf