2005: A Stellar Year for EPO

This little post was inspired by Steve’s excellent summary of the history of doping in pro cycling, along with the little onslaught of doping news we’ve been subjected to this past week. Recently Jan Ullrich was banned for 2 years (starting retroactively in 2005, therefore making him eligible to race 5 years ago!) for doping and was stripped of his 3rd place finish in that year’s Tour. I wondered how the top ten of that year’s Tour de France looked.

Caution: it ain’t pretty.

2005 Tour de France Top Ten

  1. Lance Armstrong – never sanctioned. Still being investigated by WADA.
  2. Ivan Basso – banned two years for planning to use doping (Operation Puerto)
  3. Jan Ullrich – banned two years in 2012 for doping in 2005. Stripped of 3rd place.
  4. Francisco Mancebo – linked to Operation Puerto and not allowed to start the 2006 Tour de France.
  5. Alexandre Vinokourov – Banned two years for blood doping in 2007.
  6. Levi Leipheimer – never sanctioned.
  7. Michael Rasmussen – removed from the 2007 TdF while wearing the yellow jersey. He had missed a few doping controls and was subsequently fired by his team, Rabobank.
  8. Cadel Evans – never sanctioned.
  9. Floyd Landis – Stripped of his 2007 TdF win for doping. He adamantly denied this for years (even writing a book called ‘Positively False’), but came out in 2010, admitting that he was indeed doping.
  10. Oscar Pereiro – never sanctioned.
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16 thoughts on “2005: A Stellar Year for EPO

  1. You could fairly confidently say that almost that ENTIRE top 10 is dirty bar Evans and Pereiro.

    By the way, I’d change “never sanctioned” for Evans and OPS to “no question marks”.
    Never sanctioned infers there is a question mark. At least with Evans, there can be no doubt. Clean as a whistle. Rest of em (bar OPS), FILTHY. Dirtier than the trenches of Somme mid winter.

    • I think ‘never sanctioned’ is fine here. ‘Never’ means never and doesn’t infer anything, in my mind. And I’ll never say anyone is clean as a whistle, given the troubling record of most great cyclists over the years.

  2. After watching the 2011 Tour of California, it was some sight to see Leipheimer breezing up climbs like a roll in the park, while guys 10-15 years younger were on the rivet. It almost seemed TOO easy…

  3. An interesting synopsis. Meanwhile, baseball’s greatest hitter (Bonds) and this generation’s greatest pitcher (Clemons) won’t be in the Hall of Fame any time soon. Neither will a host of other all-time greats who were implicated in steroids abuse over the past 20 years. In fact, a team of these players could arguably beat a team of the best players who have made it into the Hall. Assuming, of course, you let the PED abusers use their drugs…

    An interesting (to me) aspect of these bans is there doesn’t appear to be any financial repercussion to the offense. They simply aren’t allowed to compete for a period of time and have titles retroactively stripped. Since it takes years to reach a verdict in the cycling court, there is still great monetary incentive to cheat. If you are near the end of your career and wish to extend it a few years with PEDs, you can do so with no serious risk of punishment. You’ll keep all the prize money you win plus the endorsement deals you sign. If you are caught, things won’t be sorted until you are ready to retire anyway. And again, regardless of your age you keep your money.

    • Hi Steve – Actually is has become expensive for a rider to cheat and get caught, Article 326 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules establishes a fine corresponding to the net annual income of any rider committing an offence sanctioned by a suspension of two years or more. So in Contador’s case, the CAS tribunal is now reviewing the cycling union’s request for a 2.5 million euro fine and other costs and penalties. I’m always amazed, with so much on the line they still cheat.

      • Thanks for the clarification, Robert. It’s encouraging to see some effort is made to recoup income gained while doping. I wonder how CAS determines income? I suspect it is a literal summation of winnings while cycling and does not include money made from advertising endorsements. I am not an expert on cycling, but I know for many world-famous athletes (Tiger Woods comes to mind), the endorsement deals FAR exceed their earnings from athletic competition. If the endorsement money is not included in CAS’ calculations, that may explain the continued incentive to cheat.

    • I read something about the CAS and how much they’d be trying to get from Contador. One problem seems to be that prize money is usually spread among the team, so who knows how they will come to an amount. I’d be surprised, too, if they could try and get their hands on cash he’s made from sponsors, which, like you said, could be multiple times the amount he has won in prize money.

  4. Actually Levi was sanctioned in 1996, returned his prize money and served his time.

    SI did the very thing you have done here, only they did it for the top 10 TDF riders during the entire “Lance” era. Only Evans and Sastre (iirc) have never been linked in any way to doping. That’s partly why I’ve always sat at the “Who cares” table in regards to Lance – either he did it and beat everyone else who was doing it, or he didn’t do it and still beat everyone else. But that’s for another blog/post/comment.

    As to doping these days, thanks to amazing people like Jonathan Vaughters, there is a growing wave of anti-doping like never before. I don’t mean in the press, but within the peloton. Garmin-Barracuda tests its riders up to 3x as much as UCI/WADA/USADA. And other teams are seeing their success and following suit.

    I would argue the sport is the cleanest it’s been, well, possibly, ever.

    • I stand corrected on Levi (although I’m trusting you’re right…too late to bother checking!), so we’re down to 3 then. I think many of us are in your ‘who cares’ camp, but I think most would also like to see ‘justice’ done, whatever that would mean, i.e. if Lance did it, and everyone around him did it, but only everybody around him is getting or has gotten busted, why not him, too?

      As far as the cleanliness of the sport these days, I hope you’re right. I’ve got no reason to believe it or disbelieve it. Time will tell, I suppose.

  5. Clinging to wishful thinking and naivete, I might have convinced myself that women’s cycling was way cleaner. Less money, less fame, lower expectations (here in the US, almost no one follows men’s cycling, so no surprise thatwomen’s pro cycling is totally off the radar.) Then I saw the Jeanni Longo story. End of that idea.

  6. What I see as a positive (no pun intended!) is that between 1999 and 2008, there was an average of forty doping cases per year throughout pro cycling – all of cycling, not just the top pro circuit.

    But in 2009, 2010, and 2011 there have been a total of 49 cases.

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