Sunday, 8 February 2015

Lance Armstrong and Strava

Mr Armstrong, now seen as a "drug cheat" by all but the most willfully blind, is apparently spending his time on Strava.

While some well-intentioned and high-minded folks may say things about how that is unfair to "clean" athletes, lets just have a little look for a moment at what Strava is compared to the UCI (the "supreme" regulatory body for cycling)

Win a "major event":
UCI - drug test
Strava - nothing

Be a "pro" rider:
UCI - drug tests "out of season"
Strava - nothing

Why should Lance, for all his "CheatStrong" history, be judged by a different standard than any other "KOM" (King of the Mountain) contender?

How many other KOM holders use a "little something"?

Doubtful steroids seem to be pretty prevalent in the body-builder community, and there is no particular reason why the cycling community couldn't have similar access if they tried.
For a cyclist like, say, myself, my physician could (legally) prescribe me lots of things that would fall-foul of the WADA and UCI "doping" rules.
Just think for a moment of the occasional Olympic athlete that finds that the cold remedy he/she bought in his local pharmacy happens to contain "banned" substances.
I have only to open our household "medicine chest" to find "banned" substances - all of which were either legally prescribed by a physician or legally bought from a pharmacy.

Indeed, if Lance had only ever been a "club" rider, and limited himself to local competition, then he wouldn't have even been tested ...

So, why should Lance Armstrong, as a non-competitive rider, be subject to some sort of anti-doping regime that I am not?
OK, so, Lance made millions of pounds from his cheating, and I, with my well-intentioned medicine chest did not. Surely the money is a matter for the sponsors, race organisers, and courts.
But that is not about whether we were both "clean" or not - that is because he was tested and I wasn't.

Are you really that sure you have never taken (inadvertently or otherwise) anything "doubtful" in, say, the last 20 years?

Problem with Strava is that there are too many self-deluding amateurs who think they could be pros ...
If you can ride 200 miles a day every day for a fortnight, you are good enough to come LAST in the TdF.
How many of us really are even good enough to come last on the TdF, whatever the number of KOMs we have accumulated?

As many folks have realised, Strava KOMs are often set with a quite substantial tailwind (!).
Now, if one wished to set a UCI-recognised speed record, you're going to have the wind taken into account.
But not on Strava,
On Strava, that day you rode with a hurricane blowing from behind you, freewheeling rather than pedaling, your Mum's three-speed, still counts, and you get to be KOM until someone else is daft enough to ride the segment in a hurricane, Of course your baggy jacket caught the wind like a sail. You know it is a "dodgy" result, but no more "dodgy" than your mate that went up that 15% hill on his e-bike ... (give me another 500w, or in the case of a UK-legal e-bike, 250w of power on the hill, and even I could be KOM!).
So what is the difference between that and Lance?

You really think that no KOM holders use illegal drugs, like cocaine, or amphetamines?
I wish you were right.
But this is the "real world", and things are as they are, not as we would wish them to be.

So there you have it.
Leave Lance to the lawyers.

Treat Strava as a "bit of fun", and possibly as an aid to YOUR OWN training, and maybe for a bit of friendly competition with your friends.
Any more than that, and one has to admit that Strava KOMs are just junk trophies for wannabees anyway.
You want to be taken seriously?
Enter a "real" event.
And see how you do.

Strava is a great app/program.
And a useful training aid.
Just don't take it too seriously.

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