How do you create a deterrent to doping on the local level, and hopefully foster a change in the culture that percolates up to higher levels of the sport?
We have proposed a voluntary crowd-funded model here locally in the Mid-Atlantic and have attracted the support of the majority of local promoters, but there is a wider discussion to be had here that must involve USA Cycling.
Simply put, testing for banned substances costs a lot of money. USADA charges around $6000 for a package of ten tests at a single event. This price tag is beyond reach for most event promoters whose primary worry is providing for the safety of racers. Many riders want testing on the local level, but how do you cover the expense?
It can be done through crowd-funding, but resistance to our effort has been telling. It is my opinion that the gut reaction against our proposed Mid Atlantic Clean Ride Fund is the grassroots nature of the effort itself. On the surface, it comes off as pure narcissism and proselytizing. Testing is something that happens "to the pros", and by advocating it on a local level you're just a want-to-be.
Many local riders simply "don't care enough to spend the money" or are put off by testing for recreational substances. We've addressed this by proposing purely voluntary funding, but that in turn fosters an us-vs-them mentality. Because as USA Cycling license holders, while donating is voluntary, agreeing to submit to testing is not. "Grassroots" and peeing in a cup, or giving blood, aren't exactly concepts that fit neatly.
The current models advocated by local efforts -- ranging from purely voluntary crowd funded efforts (Florida Clean Ride Fund and our plan) to mandatory per race surcharges (an effort in Pennsylvania) -- are amazing grassroots initiatives. FCRF in particular has been very successful. But I believe that in the long term, USA Cycling must take a leadership and administrative role. Individual riders (like myself or Jared Zimlin of the FCRF) cannot be the focal point of debate. Do we really want twenty separate funds nationally, each consuming the time and energy of volunteers to do the yearly books and flirting with personal bias? Do we really want no oversight on how the testing takes place as funded by each of these twenty entities? And finally do we want twenty separate educational resources, twenty websites, twenty twitter feeds, and twenty acronyms?
I don't. The Kickstarter model is all well and good, but the problem requires something bigger.
I want USA Cycling to make our sport cleaner on the local level, I believe that lots of people agree with me, and would be willing to donate to a national crowd-fund. USA Cycling should establish a fund that individuals can donate to, and earmark their funds either to testing at events presented by their local association, or to testing of professional athletes. This fund should compliment the efforts USA Cycling already takes to combat doping. If there is a debate to be had on the efficacy of testing at the local level, this debate should be had on a national level with input from our governing body and all license holders.
You know that old box of bike parts you've put in your closet?
Recorded inside the press room at Grenoble Velodrome, we bring you Episode #8 of the Insider from the 2011 Tour de France, our final podcast.
Recorded 1,850 metres above sea level atop the famed Alpe d'Huez, we bring you Episode #7 of the Insider podcast from the 2011 Tour de France.