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Boardman on HARDTalk: cycling cleanest sport in the world

Chris Boardman talks to Stephen Sackur about doping, mechanical doping, his pro career and family life

Chris Boardman has said cycling is one of, if not the the cleanest sports in the world, and he would be “absolutely gobsmacked” if there were mechanical doping at a mainstream cycling event.

The Olympic cycling champion spoke to Hard Talk’s Stephen Sackur following the launch of his book, Triumphs and Turbulence, on his career, his former obsession with winning and on the current challenges the sport faces.

Boardman also clarified his “lynch mob” comments regarding the treatment of Shane Sutton, which he says were taken out of context. He had meant the reaction to accusations had amounted to a trial by press.

Sutton victim of trial by press “lynch mob” says Chris Boardman

The now TV presenter, author, pundit and campaigner, who has worked with British Cycling’s  "Secret Squirrel" R&D programme, said the arduous physical nature of the sport, and dealing with the pressure of a three week race required at least 50:50 mental to physical strength.

He said it will take a long time for the sport to recover from the taint of doping, and that sports like athletics are now facing the problems cycling has faced in previous years.

However, he said: “what we’re seeing today looks believable” and today’s athletes looked “anything but super human” at the end of last year’s Tour de France, with the race coming down to less than a minute. “It looked very human,” he said.

In mainstream events like the Tour, Boardman says bikes are scanned thoroughly for electrics, including by x-ray, and he would be “amazed” if one got through, that it would be the “anti-advert” for any team.

The man who loves to make things, whether from wood, or a personal performance, or writing, also said it would be a fun project to make an e bike. He said if he ever did so, he would make one that didn’t look like an e-bike.

Boardman said Sutton, who he describes as “very Australian” probably crossed the line over the years, but he wants to see the results of the inquiry before drawing any conclusions.

He also talks about his own obsession with performance, and the effect on this obsession during his pro career on his family life. Boardman credits his former coach, Peter King, for helping him realign his feelings of self-worth from being founded largely on results, focusing instead on improvements in performance.

You can watch the 25 minute HARDTalk episode on the BBC’s website here. The programme is available for 11 months.

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8 comments

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Jimnm | 7 years ago
0 likes

Wherever there is competitiveness there will be someone trying to gain an edge on everyone else, albeit legal or not. Human nature. iMO 

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lushmiester | 7 years ago
2 likes

He is probably right but Cyclist for some time yet will attract attention due to it's history . As others have commented there is now probably more drugs used other sports than cycling and curtainly many are no where near as rigorous with biological passport and testing in general.

A lot of factors come into why cycling attracts antidoping attention as mentioned above history is involved but also  cycling is an easy target compared to the vested interests (commerical and political) in some other sports.

A final thought doping is only one aspect of ethical behaviour in sport and I would be quite happy if someone would stand up and say cycling is one of the more ethical sports in the world.

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alansmurphy | 7 years ago
0 likes

Man has opinions.

 

[Moves away from the screen]

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Danger Dicko | 7 years ago
2 likes

Cleanest doesn't mean totally clean.

The amount of testing done in cycling is way more than in soccer, tennis, American Football etc.

If they had the same amount of testing, scores of players in those sports would be banned.

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the little onion | 7 years ago
5 likes

I would bet my mortgage that there are more drugs used to prepare tennis players for wimbledon or footballers for the Euro championship than are used to prepare cyclists for the TdF

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tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
0 likes

Clean in as much as currently banned drugs are less used in the pro peloton and they've moved on to newer drugs that aren't tested for and aren't on the radar. I think to belive anything else is as naieve as believing a political pledge. 

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Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago
0 likes

Whilst I can imagine, no top team is daft enough to stick a motor in the bike I still don't believe the sport is clean a whistle, it's just not dangerously doped up.

I'd imagine that every little thing going that doesn't flag up biological passport problems is being used at the top level. Marginal gains and all that....

Are peptides and the various SARMS even able to be flagged yet?

Avatar
Wookie replied to Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago
2 likes
Yorkshire wallet wrote:

Whilst I can imagine, no top team is daft enough to stick a motor in the bike I still don't believe the sport is clean a whistle, it's just not dangerously doped up.

I'd imagine that every little thing going that doesn't flag up biological passport problems is being used at the top level. Marginal gains and all that....

Are peptides and the various SARMS even able to be flagged yet?

I'm not sure he said it was as clean as a whistle he did say "cycling is one of, if not the cleanest sports in the world".  You will never stop cheats in sport. If there's money or glory people will try to cheat the system to get it. Cycling is probably more regularly tested than any other sport in the world so I’m going to say I agree with him on this.

 

 

 

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