Roche talks race radios and doping
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Roche talks race radios and doping

by Conal Andrews at 6:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
1987 Tour de France winner Stephen Roche is well known for having been an intelligent, intuitive rider who won with his head and his legs, and so it is unsurprising that he is opposed to the use of race radios. He feels that the UCI’s moves to ban these is the right decision, and would like to see professional riders returning to make their own decisions during races.

“We must thrown them in the trash bin,” he told the media after a presentation held in Québec. “The riders have become too dependent on the earphones. They await instructions and are not as attentive on what is happening in the race. The charm of the bike is the risk, the unexpected, spontaneous initiatives.”

The outspoken Irishman also talked about the doping issues that afflicted the sport for many years. Roche himself was accused of using EPO in the final years of his career, something he denied. Whatever went on then, he sees it is time for a change, and thinks that steps are being made to seriously tackle the problem.

“It hurts me inside but cycling had a very serious problem” he said. “Everyone blamed someone else. It’s not us, it’s others… But the sponsors were quitting, television was quitting. It was necessary to do something and in this sense, the biological passport is a step in the right direction. You can’t think that it will eliminate doping 100%, just as one can’t believe that all politicians are completely honest and no singers take something before a performance. There will always be isolated cases.”

He gave his thoughts about what must be done. “Riders who are suspected of doping must be suspended. And those who are convicted must be suspended. The time has come to be tough. The penalisation of teams must also be part of the anti-doping arsenal. A rider is caught, then all the team must be withdrawn from the race. We must also rely on information, as with penalties being imposed on teams, every rider suffers the consequences.”

What about those who claim to have been doped against their knowledge? He has no time for such talk. “Don’t take us for idiots,” he said, dismissing the idea that this could happen.


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