Jens Voigt has spoken out against doping for years and discusses the current controls and penalties in part five of the seven part interview with Christopher Jones of Bicycles Network Australia (BNA). While he is not taking on the UCI’s role in doping control and regulating the sport, he says that there is room for improvement.
BNA: Do you feel that the current anti-doping controls in professional cycling are working or do you see a need for improvement or change?
Voigt: Just as in every matter of society there is always room for improvement. If you are talking about simple things like democracy, is it good enough or does it need to be improved? Or the supply of food or health care, there is always the need for improvement.
|If you stand still, the cheaters try to develop; they try to go further and try to find new ways around the system.
So it is in the fight against doping. If you stand still, the cheaters try to develop; they try to go further and try to find new ways around the system. The system constantly has to be updated to make it more precise and accurate to catch them; that’s what we want. We actually do catch some and catching someone, like a high profile person, is never a pleasant event but it shows that we are working on the problem and that the system is working because we are catching the big fish; we are not just catching the little ones and the big fish go through and get away. It shows at the moment that the Anti Doping control system, as far as I would think, is quite good because we keep catching the bad people and the black sheep. This is good and we should keep it like that.
Photos © 2011 Paul Green (www.thepaulgreen.com)
BNA: The penalties for dopers is a hot topic. Are they tough enough and are they working?
Voigt: The penalties, 2 years for the first offence and lifetime ban for the second one, that seems to be hard enough to me. The thing is that not always the people get the two years. They get free or they have a crown witness and they only have one year and then you go ‘Why do we have the written rules if we don’t implement them?’ If you let things like that happen, it decreases the respect that other institutions or people might have for the organisation. They say ‘Yeah, I know it is written on the paper – 2 years, but we only gave one year or zero because we think this and that’.
A non-insider reads ‘Caught for this, declared free’, he goes ‘I wonder what’s going on there’.
|It doesn’t give any of us a good image. I don’t understand and I don’t like that.
If you are driving your car too fast: penalty. If you hit someone on the train in a fight: penalty. That’s what people understand. There is the action and it has consequences. Sometimes it may look in some cases that there was an action and there are no other consequences. Why is that? That’s no good. It doesn’t give any of us a good image. I don’t understand and I don’t like that.
BNA: If you were the UCI President, would there be anything in cycling that you would change?
Voigt: Not an easy question because it is easy to blame somebody and it is easy to be unhappy with somebody, an organisation or even the world politics, but it’s a lot harder to have your own ideas and say I would do this and this.
The UCI also has cycle cross, mountain biking, indoor cycling and cycle polo. There are the juniors, seniors and ladies so there are a lot of fields to play on. As I mentioned, probably there is a need for improvement, even for myself. Maybe I could improve my performance, or maybe the way I handle my life, I could improve that – who knows? It is easy from the outside to shout at somebody but if you do actually criticise somebody you should have a plan or some ideas that are well thought through. You cannot say ‘This is stupid’, you have to think about it beforehand and then you can criticise somebody and say here is an idea which I really think would work in reality.
I would definitely try to get all of these doping cases more quickly sorted. I f***ing hate it. I f***ing hate it that one case stays in the eye of the public for a year or longer. Deny, deny, deny! And you have the experts prove that they are innocent and counter experts and more experts and the press people speak, the rider speaks and the mum and the dad and the brother and the brother-in-law are talking and everybody else and it doesn’t go away. It doesn’t stop.
So in the public eye they go ‘Ah ok, cycling – they are doping; it’s all the same’. Sometimes it’s just one case, if it’s a high profile case, and they don’t stop talking about the case. It looks like there’s nothing else in cycling. That is so frustrating to me. I would definitely try to make these cases clearer, easier and solve them.
BNA: Are the UCI has frame regulations limiting cycling and performance?
Voigt: No, I think to a certain extent it’s good that they have regulations. They could easily build bicycles that only weigh 4.5 kilos and maybe for a little climber who only pushes 350 watts because he only weighs 55 kg, yes it could be safe. But for somebody my size, a bike of 4.5 kg would be on the limit of being acceptable, stable and safe for myself or for a sprinter.
It’s good. Not many people know there is also an upper limit for bikes; it is 25 kg. Everybody laughs and goes ‘Why is that?’ For the downhiller, if they could, they would have bikes that weigh 200 kg; if it’s heavy, it makes them faster downhill. But imagine the brakes you need on a 200 kg bike. If you just put on steel piece after steel piece to make it heavy, imagine the brake power you need to stop that thing. So there is also a limit for that which also makes sense.
|You should not try to stop the wheels of time turning, or turn it backwards. Do we ask Formula 1 to start on 3 wheels? Of course not.
Sometimes with the TT bikes they [UCI] get a bit carried away. Do you know how much it costs a producer to build a mould [die]? And a year after they [UCI] go ‘It has to be shorter.’ [The manufacturer says] ‘Argh, we just built it for $100,000’. Later they go ‘Shorter, longer’ and the producer goes ‘Argh, just make up your mind.’ Then you go [to the UCI] ‘Easy guys, just relax a little bit.’
You should not try to stop the wheels of time turning, or turn it backwards. Do we ask Formula 1 to start on 3 wheels? Of course not. It’s all about high-tech and developing things. Bikes also develop and bike producers are proud of the ideas they have, the brain power they put in, the engineers and what they come up with; sometimes futuristic looking bikes. Let them play a little bit.
I can only talk for myself and my personal view.
The Jens Voigt Interview Part 6: German and Australian Cycling
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The Jens Voigt Interview:
Highlights: The Best of Jens
Part 1: The Early Years
Part 2: The Psychology of Cycling
Part 3: Cycling Technology
Part 4: Team Leopard
Part 5: Doping and the UCI
Part 6: German and Australian Cycling
Part 7: The Jens Phenomenon and the Future