Yesterday morning, Jérémy Roy published on his own official website an open letter in the wake of the recent events related to doping affairs in cycling and more specifically the results of the USADA case against Lance Armstrong who was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles (among others).
This letter is available in French in this article of his website, but in order to make it accessible to a wider public, I decided to translate the letter, in collaboration with Jérémy.
Below you can find the English translation of Jérémy Roy's letter:
Following the recent events in the world of cycling, the following comments and declarations of several riders, the different initiatives which have been set up to save cycling and to answer questions from some people, I decided to send out my opinion today in this open letter.
Of course I can not say that cycling is currently going perfectly fine, but people should stop put cycling in the pillory and say that all cyclists are cheaters. Yes, there are cheaters, there will always be (in sports but also in life in general), but they are getting squeezed out thanks to the efforts of the UCI, the WADA (and its national branches) and the police.
Today, everyone's talking about the Armstrong affair (which still has some secrets to deliver on some cash flows), I hope that soon the Padua affair (Italy) will deliver all its information and that the Puerto affair (Spain), which will be reopened in January, will also uncover all of its secrets.
I discovered, like you, the USADA report and yes, I was shocked by this almost collective doping system and No, all teams are -fortunately- not working like that. I'm not trying to cover up the subject in words not practicing any omerta as some journalists might tell me because they don't like it that I discover this part of cycling history like anyone else in the media. I became a professional rider at the end of 2003 and the fact that I spend a quarter of the year (90 racing days) close to other riders doesn't mean that I know what they do when no one is watching. And even if I happen to talk to other riders, do you really believe that the cheaters shout out loud about their chemical exploits? The most recent confessions (for which it's important to realise that they've only been done thanks to the inquiry and thus under oath ...) confirm this: their wife and family weren't even aware of it (even though I think you more easily share personal things with people who are close to you than with your colleague riders or even competitors). It's too easy to beg for forgiveness these days, to clean up its conscience. No, I don't pardon them.
They've been stealing (results, glory, money, contracts ...). But on the other side, I would thank them anyway for having confessed if that can help to get rid of this doping plague by taking into account how they did it and by trying to find a solution.
Talking of which, one should know that the UCI did of course set up several tools, indeed not perfect, but which fortunately exist anyway. The quite constraining Whereabouts system: a localisation system where a rider who is part of the target group (UCI ProTeams, Continental Pro teams asking for Wildcard invitations and certain riders who have been selected by a group of experts) must provide a daily planning of his activities and an address together with a one hour time span during which a doping control can be done (it's important to add that such a control can also take place outside this defined time span, but if the rider is not present it doesn't count as a no-show in that case).
There's also the biological passport, well actually the haematological passport for now because the steroidic part is not yet being exploited. This profiling of haematological values allows, combined with classical doping controls, to target some suspect riders, to suspend and punish riders if necessary, based on an expert committee's decision. Some riders have been suspended based on the passport, but the legal constraints are pretty much limiting UCI's action range.
Since June 2011 (unfortunately not retroactive), people who have been proven to have violated the anti doping code can no longer have a job as manager, directeur sportif, trainer, doctor or paramedical assistant, mechanic, driver, riders agent. This rule allows to progressively clean up the world of cycling. However, I do encourage the teams to apply this rule without any time limitations.
As for proposals to go further, in addition to longer sanctions
> I can only support any anti-doping research in order to improve the tests more and more. Too often, the cheaters are one step ahead. The problem, in addition to the costs of the research, is that the volume of the sample is not endless ... which means that all known substances can not be searched for in one sample, one has to make choices (and we can only find what is tested for!). That's how some get through a doping control, ... one time, but maybe not the next time.
> There have been discussions about conserving the B sample for later tests when research would have progressed, but I don't know what the current status on that idea is. Than again, this also has a cost: storing, analysis, which test(s) to apply?
The economical problem is thus well present in the fight against doping. A part of the « prize money » is already taken at the source, what can be done more? As suggested by the President of Française des Jeux, Mr Blanchard Dignac (in 2009 already), an association of cycling team sponsors should be set up to support the UCI in its fight against doping. In theory, a one year salary has to be paid by someone caught for doping. I hope that money is indeed used in the fight against doping.
> It would also be good for the WADA to cancel its « liberalisation » of the use of corticoids. A temporary competition stop (what the French law calls arrêt de travail) should be applied when such a substance is used in order to prevent any risk on the health of the rider (risk of a dropping cortisol level). Only the MPCC teams (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible) internally apply this competition stop in case of corticoid use to heal an injury.
> The personalised power profile (PPP), for example used by F. Grappe, -like the haematological profile- allows to know the fysical limits of a rider. Remains the problem of the reliability of the measure, taking into account fatigue and the repetition of efforts during a stage race, the error margin (it is not forbidden to beat its own records .. that's actually the goal of training).
> Develop the biological passport by activating the steroid profile
> I also support Taylor Phinney in his stance against pain killers taken by some riders during a race. If you have a problem you need a pain killer for, I think practicing cycling in competition is not the best solution for that problem!
> The organisation of a « world conference » with WADA and UCI would also allow to go further
> The creation of a committee for the organisation of doping controls which would be independent of the UCI seems to be necessary for the UCI to become credible again: with that setup no one can accuse the UCI of being judge and party
> Finally, police and customs or maybe even the FBI and its local equivalents around the world should continue to help us in this fight (fight against doping, trafficking, suspicious cash flows (corruption), ...). Several affairs have been uncovered thanks to them.
Despite the difficult times and the different "attacks", I still believe and want to believe in the sport I love. I accepted the fact that I'm not as strong as the others but that doesn't prevent me from having some good results with my own performance and to win some races. Of course I will certainly never win the Tour de France or the World Championships with my capacities but I still have hope, hope to progress, to do the best I can without having any regrets because I will have done all I could to obtain my goals. I have sacrificed so much and the same goes for my family since I'm away from home for 180 days a year, so I don't want to simply give up right now. That would be a defeat (one more) upon the cheaters.
I planned to write this open letter for quite some time now, but I didn't want to be seen as the guy who always complains nor receive the usual comments (he doesn't have any results because he doesn't train as he should, he's too fat, he's turning around the real problem, he lives in a perfect world which doesn't exist ...)
For those who still want to criticise cycling for what it is, please do that somewhere else ... I still want to believe in it, it's almost 10 years now that I'm a pro rider and that makes 10 years that I hear at the start-of-the-season briefing: « don't lose your faith guys, things are moving on, cheaters are being caught one day, we're going in the right direction ». My own progression and the fact that young riders are now winning races are probably not just a coincidence. With the current rules of geolocalisation and the passport, there's less space for cheaters.
I would like to finish this letter with a remark because I've had enough of certain media which only talk about cycling in terms of doping affairs. I'm sorry dear journalists and spectators that you get bored during the flat stages at the start of the Tour (and you let us know) ... yes, there are stages for sprinters and there will always be: what's wrong in starting a race keeping in mind that we still need our energy for the upcoming 3 weeks? You should stop playing CyclingManager!
For those who are surprised by the average speed of a race ... (and who are not happy when the peloton take it slowly, ... indeed, those are often the same people), did they ever participate in a cycling race? Rode in a group? Aspiration effect and relaying, does that ring a bell? One should not compare races and other eras, there are so many elements which can influence a performance (weather, wind, quality of the road, profile of the previous stages, ...). We are professional cyclists, our job is to be as fast as possible on a bike and we train every day to achieve that, so please do not compare with your Sunday ride and do not compare the short climb of your village with a professional race.
I'm not the only one who thinks this, many riders suffer in silence of this sneaky problem which causes gnawing worries to be associated to a « system ». Some even don't dare to say they are a cyclists any more, just because of the mistakes made by some riders. And I do assure you that most of the peloton works honestly.
I could go on much longer on some points and discuss other topics which are at least as important as this one for the future of cycling (sustainable development, modernisation of cycling, formats of races, ...) but I'm afraid I would lose your attention (if I didn't lose you already before).
Thanks for having read this and thanks for your support. Cycling also needs you! > 7 comments | shown 23317x
Currently 7 comments!
je ne parle qu'en mon nom propre, mais sachez que je trouve fort honorable votre sortie médiatique via cette lettre ouverte. Non, ce n'est pas un comportement de "pleureuse", bien au contraire : c'est agréable de voir un sportif professionnel s'impliquer, s'inquiéter et prendre ses responsabilités vis-à-vis du public.
Par ailleurs, je pense qu'on est beaucoup à croire en un cyclisme propre : la présence des français aux abords du Tour le prouve.
Continuez à courir comme vous le faites, avec fierté et courage.
Adrien, amateur du tour de France depuis 1996 et du cyclisme en général.
| Adrien | wednesday 07 November 2012 at 22:35:31
Thankyou for taking the time to translate to English these interesting and passionate words. Much appreciated as a cycling fan to hear sincere feelings from a classy rider.
| Tambou | thursday 08 November 2012 at 11:53:38
J'avais été lire cette lettre sur son site.Le fonds de ce qu'il dit est souvent intéressant
| cytep | thursday 08 November 2012 at 11:57:53
merci Jéremy vous étes un champion dans tous les sens du mot
ce sera encore un plaisir de rouler avec vous lors de la journée annuelle
| figeureu | sunday 11 November 2012 at 7:41:06
An outstanding forthright commentary from a pro cyclist. Thank you Mr. Roy. Your thoughts insight to a competitors mind without the anti doping agencies or Oprah having the lead.
| B One | friday 25 January 2013 at 21:10:46
Thank you Jeremy,while there are still riders like you in the peloton cycling has a chance to recover from the dark times.
| Dave Shaw | tuesday 29 January 2013 at 21:08:03
Avoir le courage et l'audace de dire tout cela est très fort.
On se souvient de ce qu'avait enduré Christophe Bassons lors de ses propos.
Il faut des coureurs de votre trempe et le cyclisme ira bien mieux.
De plus, je vous trouve un excellent coureur et vous souhaite une belle et grande année 2013 déjà privé de certains coureurs tricheurs en espérant que d'autres vont encore être découverts et exclus.
Un fan fou de cyclisme, ce sport très dur et pas suffisamment rémunérateur pour l'ensemble des coureurs qui en ont fait leur profession.
Encore merci Jérémy.
| Jean-Pierre | saturday 30 March 2013 at 21:05:16