It doesn’t matter if they impact the race for the podium or not, they can still be “racing” and it’s insulting to call them mere “participants” (and then, as some above have done, deduct that the rules of the race shouldn’t matter to them).
Yes, you can turn up to a gravel race and just go to participate and have a good day out, like Sagan did at Unbound. But there will have been many, many, who finished behind him and still would have considered themselves to be racing. They will have trained very hard, spend months thinking about their bike, and fought for every position they could get. They went there to race, and not just to participate.
unbound isn’t the greatest example as for the 200 distance likely more that half the field gives zero f**ks where they place. They’re there to finish. I’m in favor of people following the rules but you might as well be banging your head against a brick wall thinking there’s any chance that there will be any type of strict enforcement of doping among amateur racing on any wide scale. There’s no money for it and the desire for strict enforcement of it is not high.
I’m still going to argue there are a far larger number of people in the amateur ranks who care little about this. And without a proposed solution this is all pissing into the wind. Following the rules is a good thing but for a hobby for amateurs you’re not going to get much buy in for increased costs to handle enforcement. People already complain when they pay $75 for a race and don’t get a gourmet meal and a huge swag bag.
At least in the sanctioned bike racing world in the US, that is definitely not true. At the bigger road and crit events there is drug testing and if USA Cycling shows up to test, they test the masters same as the pros (though for cost reasons, the percentage of non pros tested is lower). And, they are quite quick to issue press releases and make examples when an athlete gets popped. They regularly publish positive tests (or skipped tests which is a fairly common way cheating masters deal with the issue). If you do get popped or skip the test, you will be notorious.
Amateur bike racers, including masters, do fairly regularly compete in events with testing and if you podium, or get your name drawn randomly, you have to go to the testing trailer at USA Cycling sanctioned race.
I’m a very low level racer but I have “participated” in some bigger events and my name has been in the hat for testing along with all other entrants but I have never been selected. I have friends who have been tested and I was in one masters 55+ race were the winner got banned a few months later after skipping a post race test.
If you race bikes, you do have to care about doping even if you don’t agree with the rules.
I keep hearing “why would an amateur cheat”….maybe were talking about different things but for most it takes TONS of time, money, and hard work to have a shot at a win, a podium, a top 5, a top 10, a top 25%, 50%, within 1 standard deviation or whatever. When you get beaten by a doper it really sucks. If it doesn’t matter, why do you bother racing? Why not just compete against yourself on private strata segments and forget all of the hassle of racing?
Yesterday, at a the Bailey Hundo in Colorado, (unsanctioned MTB 65 mile race), race guide indicated follow the course, GPS files provided, if signs are taken down, follow the course that was in the guide. Sure enough, some signs were taken down at a critical intersection. My Garmin beeped and annunciated, “off-course.” I went back, and followed the course. A couple of riders with me kept on the track and didn’t care. When I came around where the shortcut met back up with the course (probably about 1-1.5 miles), other riders were popping out from the shortcut too. At the finish (I wasn’t a contender, so I didn’t feel protesting the entire race field was warranted), I asked the race official what they were doing about the “shortcut” that many chose to take, they indicated they were trying to figure it out. I guess I was just a participant (who wanted to be a racer). No one was volunteering that they rode a shorter course, and they only DQ’ed the 2nd finisher. The online race results don’t even indicate any DQs. When you look at Strava, it clearly shows lots of people who took the shortcut. One even placed in a category, posted a pic on the podium, and has the GPS course recorded showing the shortcut taken.
It’s not just doping. People took shortcuts, notoriously (in this case), and they don’t care. The race organizer could’ve done more, but didn’t. They just handed everybody finisher awards… What did being honest get me? A little more mileage (good thing I like riding, whether or not in competition), but I wanted everyone to play by the rules as we were all competing. Discouraging.
If I was you, if I’d already gone as far as finding podium finishers on Strava who had cut the course then I’d screenshot them and send to the organisers (I’d be tempted to leave a snarky comment on their ride as well!). And if as an organiser I was made aware that people were cutting the course, I would at least DQ the people who were pointed out to me, probably take it a step further and do some Strava sleuthing myself, and maybe even ask for a GPX file from all participants that finished on the podium and that I couldn’t find on Strava.
And then take a close look at course design, signage, marshalling, timing mat placement (if timing chips are used), etc for next years event to try and minimise opportunities for shortcuts. Plus make sure it’s published well in advance that anybody found cutting the course would be DQed and that the race rules reflected this. There’s going to be a whole bunch of aggrieved riders who rode the whole course and have been robbed of a win, podium, top 10, etc by accidental or deliberate course cutting who may well not come back next year otherwise.
One of the greatest gifts in my life was realizing I don’t care about competition. My sense of self isn’t dependent on competition so I couldn’t give a tinker’s about someone cheating. Let them cheat if that blows their skirt up
Are you sure they knew they cut the course? There was no sign… even you took the wrong way at first. Did everyone have GPS directions? Did everyone load it to follow? Are you sure they didn’t care?
Personally if so many took the wrong route here that is on the race director. They probably should have just made the course go the “short cut” since it seemed easy to miss. As for awards I wouldn’t take one bit if I thought I rode the right course how would I know?
Now if they did know and did it anyways… shame on them.
Don’t forget some of the early Tour De France races where some competitors were caught cheating by taking the train. Back in the days when it was a single non stop race rather than the way it’s been shortened and broken down into day stages.
A month or two ago I was racing in the national senior games in Ft Lauderdale FL. We raced the 5K TT on one day and the 10 K TT the next. The first race was a complete clusterfuck, people on course, results all messed up, disorganized. Well, when the results came down, I had the fast time in my age class. I got to go up on the podium, got my gold medal, felt like a real winner. No podium kisses but what the hell, I was still pretty excited. Top step baby!!
Ok so the next day we’re doing the 10K and a pretty speedy guy finishes right after me. We compared times…yeah he got me by a decent amount. He said his time was messed up the day before. Got back to the car, checked Strava…you guess it, he beat me in the 5K too.
I went back to the hotel, got the medal, came back and gave it to the guy. I really felt bad for him, even though I traded in my gold for a silver, I still got that feeling of winning a national caliber event and this poor sucker…he’s got the gold medal but none of that.
It was then I really understood why people dope and cheat. It feels good!
It’s a great question…I guess I don’t know but it felt pretty damn good. And even after knowing I got second, I still kinda feel like I won. Completely irrational…but the feeling has persisted. I know “it’s about the journey”, it’s about “competing with yourself”, it’s “the experience” and all of that stuff but, man, the top step is pretty awesome. I feel somewhat grateful to have experienced ill gotten gains!