Cycling Needs a Culture Shift on Doping, UT Panel Says


“If you didn’t do it, you were out.”

“Fundamental change is absolutely necessary.”

“Everything was designed to keep this secret at all costs.”

Those words—from three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, attorney Bill Bock, and journalist Reed Albergotti, respectively—were the strong consensus of a Monday night panel discussion at UT on doping in elite cycling.

Titled “The Real Price of Winning at all Costs,” the College of Communication’s panel at the Belo Center for New Media also included Kathy LeMond, Greg’s wife, and Betsy Andreu, wife of former elite cyclist Frankie Andreu. The panelists all agreed that doping is the norm in professional cycling, and they also said that the sport’s governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), is part of the problem.

Attorney Bock—who represented the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in its investigation of Lance Armstrong—described the UCI as deeply corrupt. After recounting how the organization refused to turn over Armstrong’s drug test results and asked the Anti-Doping Agency to drop the case, he cautioned that the problem goes far beyond any one cyclist.

“The UCI wants you to view this as the Lance Armstrong affair,” Bock said, “and they want everyone to believe the problem is over. But the same people are in charge, and the sport has the same problems it’s always had.”

The LeMonds and the Andreus have been outspoken critics of doping in cycling, and the cyclists’ wives shared harrowing stories of the personal impact doping had on their lives and those of their friends. Betsy Andreu told how she received death threats after she spoke out against doping, while Kathy LeMond recalled learning of the sudden death of cyclist Johannes Draaijer in 1990. While there was no conclusive evidence that the performance-enhancing drug EPO caused Draajier’s death, his wife and the LeMonds, among others, believe that it did. “These are not benign drugs,” Kathy LeMond told the panel. “The doctors said [Draaijer’s] heart was literally shredded.”

So what can be done to fix the problem? The panelists weren’t sure. Greg LeMond proposed eliminating the UCI, while Betsy Andreu said she thinks doping should be punishable with jail time. “Why are we OK with cheating?” Kathy LeMond said. “It’s dangerous, it’s criminal activity, and it’s ruining sports. I just don’t understand why.”

From left: Panelists Bill Bock, Greg LeMond, Betsy Andreu, Kathy LeMond, and Reed Albergotti. Photo courtesy Laura Byerly and Marcus Speir.


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