The sport of cycling, and road cycling in particular, has gained a bit of a bad name recent times for, well, y’know, taking more drugs than you’d find at Glastonbury and the Oscars after-party combined.
To cut a long story short, there was a dude called Harpoon or Javelin or Lance or something who was pretty much carrying the sport, became a global superstar, won a bunch of stuff and then turned out to be a pantomime villain.
It’s a pretty good story. They should really make a movie out of it.
The thing is though, ever since old Javelin-or-what’s-his-name was outed and the ensuing scandal overcome by the sport, we like to think that the drug use has gone down a lot. Or at least that not every Tom, dickhead or Harry can be found doping in the middle of the peloton anymore.
So, are we right? How does cycling stack up against the rest of the world’s sports when it comes to illegal drug use? Because we know for damn sure that a whole lot of them athletics lads and lasses are partial to a helping hand every now and then.
Well, luckily for us, the Doping League Table for the past year has just been released – yes, that’s an actual thing – and cycling has come in at (drum roll please)... fourth place! The exact same as last year!
Well, it means that we miss out on a medal position for drug abuse, so that’s got to be a good thing, right? But there were still 21 positive tests announced in the sport, with 16 in road cycling, three in track cycling and two in mountain biking. Only eight of the riders caught were riding in the WorldTour or Pro Continental.
Interestingly, football comes in at just one case behind cycling, with a total of 20 reported cases in 2015. Baseball takes the bronze medal on 30, Weightlifting injects its way to silver with 55, and, we knew it, that pesky athletics lot blow the field away with a total of 62 reported cases.
Of all the cases reported from every sport, a massive 38 were from Russia, 21 from the USA, 20 from the United Kingdom and 16 from Kenya.
It’s also worth noting that some sports to do not disclose the results of each of their doping cases either, whereas cycling reveals all.
It’s progress, anyway. The numbers seem to be going down, and maybe next year we’ll be able to boast to football fans that their ‘beautiful game’ is actually more cocaine-and-PED-filled than cycling. That’ll be the day.