Lance Armstrong gets a lot of flack over the doping scandal that saw him stripped of his seven Tour de France victories, and rightly so.
One of the most common arguments heard that leans slightly in his favour though, is that ‘everyone was doing it’ at the time, and a new study from Sporting Intelligence has highlighted just how accurate this may be.
Of course, just because other riders cheated doesn’t mean Mr. Dopey should get his titles back – after all, just because everyone else is robbing a bank doesn’t mean you should too – but this new study does make you realise the sheer scale of the doping scandal.
The results from the study are laid out in the rather complex chart above. Put simply though, the website analysed the careers of every TdF rider who finished in the top 10 during the so-called “EPO Era” (from 1998-2013) – and found that around 65 percent of the riders, “perhaps less, but probably more”, were drugged up at the time.
That’s a whole lot of cheating.
Only four riders have actually held on to Tour titles that were won in the sixteen year period in question; Carlos Sastre, who won in 2008, Cadel Evans, from 2011, and the honourable Brits Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, who won in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
81 different riders took a TdF top 10 from 1998-2013… 53 of those – 65 percent – were almost definitely Doping
As well as the top 10 finishers in the Tour during the doping madness, the revealing study also considered key riders outside of the top 10s, as well as significant doctors and team personnel.
But where does the 65 percent stat come from? Well, out of the 160 riders that took place in the 16 TdF showcases in the relevant period, 81 different riders a claimed a top 10 finish, and 31 of those are confirmed dopers who have already been charged.
Eight more of the riders on that list are “known dopers who have never been sanctioned”, and a further 14 are riders who have been strongly linked to doping but have yet to be accused.
That means that 53 riders from that 81 total, or 65 percent, were almost definitely on performance enhancing drugs.
Just 28 top 10 riders from the sixteen year period in question remain untarnished…
Just 28 top 10 riders from the period remain untarnished, and 20 of those got their success between 2010 and 2013 – so it looks like from ’98 to ’09 pretty much all the top dogs were at it.
This isn’t exactly a new revelation, but it certainly does make for some interesting stats. The moral of the story? Learn from Lance Armstrong. If you’re going to go doping… Don’t get caught!
Oh, and also don’t do it to start with. That too.